To obtain food stamps, households must have gross monthly incomes at or under 130 percent of the federal poverty level and net monthly incomes after deductions at or under 100 percent of the federal poverty level as of 2015. Their countable resources must also be within the mandated limit.
A household's gross income is the total income from all members before deductions. The maximum gross income for a household of one to qualify for food stamps, also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP benefits, is $1,265, while the maximum gross income allowed for a family of four is $2,584 as of 2015. The net income is the gross income minus deductions such as a 20 percent earned income deduction, a standard deduction based on household size, a dependent care deduction, medical care costs for the elderly or disabled, and excess shelter and utility costs. The net monthly income maximum for a single is $973, while for a family of four it is $1,988. Households with elderly or disabled members only have to meet the net income limits.
Households must also remain within the resource limits to qualify for SNAP benefits. The program allows SNAP-qualifying households up to $2,250 in countable resources such as bank accounts, although households with at least one elderly or disabled member may have countable resources up to $3,250 as of 2015. The SNAP program does not count household resources such as primary homes and retirement pensions. Additionally, most states do not count vehicles.