Who Qualifies for Food Stamps?

Eligibility for receipt of food stamps with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is typically based on having a maximum monetary value in countable resources and a maximum gross monthly income, according to the current guidelines. The maximum figures for eligibility from October 1, 2014, until September 30, 2015, are $2,250 in countable resources and $1,265 (for single applicants) in gross monthly income. Unemployed able-bodied applicants between the ages of 18 and 59 should be in secondary education, community service, an approved work program, or meet a minimum required number of hours of employment.

The term "countable resources" refers to bank account savings and goods that can be sold. A person's home is not considered a countable resource, although in some states a vehicle is. If at least one person in a household is either disabled or age 60 or older, then the maximum value of countable resources permitted for food stamp eligibility increases.

Although regulations vary depending on the state (Alaska and Hawaii both have higher limits), the maximum net monthly income limits (after deductions) are as follows based on the guidelines set for October 1, 2014 until September 30, 2015:

  • For a household of one person, $973
  • For two people, $1,311
  • For three people, $1,650
  • For four people, $1,988
  • For five people, $2,326
  • For six people, $2,665
  • For seven people, $3,003
  • For eight people, $3,341
  • For each additional person, a further $339 in net monthly income is permitted

To calculate net income, the following deductions are considered valid:

  • Standard deduction
  • 20 percent earned income deduction
  • Dependent care deduction
  • Limited medical expense deduction for elderly or disabled members of the household
  • Limited excess shelter care expense deduction