Meeting the Requirements for Food Stamps

Food Stamps, or what is now known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is a U.S. federal government program. The program is run by state and local offices. It helps low-income households buy food by giving "food allowance" monthly. The monthly allowance is given through a SNAP card account that can be used by swiping, similar to how one would swipe a credit or debit card. Like any other government assistance program, there are strict requirements that need to be met for a family to qualify for SNAP assistance.

Citizenship status and certain requirements

  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • U.S. citizen
    • born in the United States
    • born abroad to parents that are both U.S. Citizens
    • took the citizenship test to obtain citizenship
  • U.S. national
    • born in an American territory (like in American Samoa or Puerto Rico)
    • born overseas to a citizen parent and non-citizen parent
  • qualified alien
  • refugee
  • a lawfully admitted permanent resident
  • somebody who has been granted asylum

Not sure of your immigration status? You can check it on the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ website.

Note that, if you are able-bodied and is between 18 to 60 years old, you need to have some sort of employment to be eligible for SNAP benefits.

How much are your assets?

When you apply for SNAP benefits, the application will ask for detailed information about all of your resources. This is defined by the government as everything you own which includes all of your bank, investment, and retirement accounts.

There are some exceptions. The assets that do not count toward the worth of your resources or overall assets include:

  • If you own your house and the land it is on.
  • Your vehicle, depending on how it is used and your state of residence.
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits.
  • Resources of household members who receive Social Security Insurance (SSI).

Generally, to be eligible for SNAP benefits, you should not have more than $2,250 in resources. But if you have a senior citizen in your family, that amount is increased to $3,250.

Determine all sources of household income

Specific information about the income of all household members will be asked by the SNAP application as well. This includes each member's official work, the total amount earned each month, and all other income sources. According to the Food and Nutrition Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), to qualify for SNAP benefits, your net monthly income must be lower than:

  • $990 for a household of 1
  • $1,335 for a household of 2
  • $1,680 for a household of 3
  • $2,025 for a household of 4
  • $2,370 for a household of 5
  • $2,715 for a household of 6
  • $3,061 for a household of 7
  • $3,408 for a household of 8
  • $347 for each additional member exceeding 8.

Please note that if you are living in Alaska or Hawaii, SNAP net income limits are higher.

The United States Department of Agriculture has a free screening tool that can help you determine if you are qualified to receive SNAP benefits based on your income and resources. You can also ask questions and start an application over the phone.