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What Are the Qualifications for Food stamps?

Food stamps are only available for those who meet certain income qualifications.
Food stamps allow low-income people to purchase food.
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  • Written By: Jack Cassidy
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 04 August 2014
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Since October 2008, the United States' Food Stamp Program has been known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Food stamps, or SNAP benefits as they are sometimes called, help low-income families put nutritious, healthy food on the table. Though local state agencies administer and process individual applications and oversee the distribution of food stamp benefits, eligibility standards are set at the federal level. The qualifications for food stamps include a household asset limit, two household income standards, work requirements for certain able-bodied applicants and legal U.S. residential status.

To participate in SNAP, applicants must submit an accounting of the household’s assets. Countable asset resources include cash, bank accounts, stocks and bonds. The asset qualifications for food stamps are subject to certain exemptions, including the value of a house and lot and, in some cases, the value of household vehicles. For SNAP eligibility, total countable assets may not exceed $2,000 US Dollars (USD) in total, or $3,000 USD if a member of the household is 60 or older.

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Income qualifications for food stamps include two related measures for most households. First, a household’s gross monthly income must be equal to or below 130 percent of the Federal poverty guidelines. Second, a household’s net monthly income must be equal to or below 100 percent of the Federal poverty guidelines. There are several income deductions allowed, including two standard deductions applicable to most households and other deductions for certain medical expenses and child support payments. Federal poverty guidelines work on a sliding scale according to the size of the household in question.

In most cases, able-bodied adults without dependents who are age 18-50 must be employed or must participate in a formal employment training program to maintain food stamp benefits beyond three months in a 36-month period. Before food stamp benefits are distributed, potential recipients must meet locally instituted work and training registration requirements. For example, in Massachusetts, non-exempt SNAP applicants must enroll in a SNAP Food Stamp Work Program to receive benefits. Certain people are exempt from the work requirement, including the elderly and those who have children younger than 6 years old.

The last of the major qualifications for food stamps deals with an applicant’s residential status in the U.S. Any U.S. citizen who meets the preceding requirements and has a Social Security number is eligible for food stamp benefits. A limited number of non-citizens also are eligible for benefits, including those born in U.S. territories such as American Samoa, certain members of American Indian tribes and members of certain Hmong and Highland Laotian tribes living legally in the U.S. Non-citizens who have been granted asylum or refugee status in the U.S. might be eligible for SNAP benefits. Other qualified aliens also might be eligible.

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Discuss this Article

amypollick
Post 6

@anon335768: You can't get restaurant foods with food stamps. In general, you can't even get deli foods like sliced meats and cheeses. This is a shame, because these foods are generally more wholesome than stuff like bologna, which is permitted.

Also, a person can't even go to a store deli and pick up something like a rotisserie chicken, which could serve for two or three meals, with a little planning.

The sad part is that many people who could really use food stamps don't apply because they don't have a way to cook food conveniently.

At least people can't get alcohol with food stamps. That's a good thing.

anon335768
Post 5

Since the program is for wholesome, nutritious food, all sugar laden, highly processed foods should be banned. Fresh produce and economical meat (not processed meat), as well as essentials like sanitary products, paper towels and laundry detergent should be covered. All junk food should be prohibited, as well as restaurant foods. There are very few nutrients in them and they are damaging to health and the government supplies that too.

I have less than two-thirds of poverty income and get a whopping $16 in food stamps and have a choice of meds or food each month and the government is planning to cut my unemployment, Social Security and food stamps because I make too much money. Figure that one out! Did I mention I am 67 years old and disabled?

anon277672
Post 4

I watch the grocery belt in Ohio of people unloading loads of sugar laden foods like pop tarts, Lucky Charms, Coca Cola, ginger ale, and Dorito's and then pay for it with food stamps. I work and can't afford that stuff. I would like to get my kids to have a treat occasionally. Why do food stamps not just provide for regular groceries? How come that stuff is covered when I can't even afford it, and it is given away by the government through the food stamp program?

anon251630
Post 3

Can a person (low income) qualify for food stamps if the person is currently under a garnishment?

jessica500
Post 2

I tried to use the food stamp calculator on my state's food stamp site. How close to being accurate to the true amount is this calculator?

DFMeyers
Post 1

I helped my sister apply for food stamps online a couple of months ago. After filling our her online application she got a letter stating that she should go to the office. She had an interview and they gave her a food stamp card that day. She is going through a divorce and really need the help.

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