Who Is Eligible for Food Stamps?


Quick Answer

Food stamp benefits, also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), are available to all Americans who fall below 130 percent of the federal poverty line based on their gross monthly income. The precise income limit varies based on the number of people included in the household.

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Full Answer

For example, as of 2015, the federal poverty line for a family of three is $1,650 a month. This means that in order for a family to qualify for SNAP assistance their gross household income must fall below $2,144 a month. In addition, a household can have no more than $2,250 in accessible assets, such as money in savings. The actual amount offered by each state varies, as do the deductions allowable by each state's SNAP administration. However, these details can be found through that agency directly, as well as through its website. While gross monthly income is used as a guideline, some families have significant expenses that can be claimed as a deduction, such as child care or care of an elderly parent.

Once eligibility is established, the state agency must determine how much of the household's income can be contributed toward the purchase of food. Once determined, their contribution amount is deducted from the maximum benefit available to a household of that size, and the resulting amount is their monthly benefit total.

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