What Are General Eligibility Requirements for Food Stamps?

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For households to be eligible for food stamps, also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP benefits, their incomes and resources must be within federal guidelines. Able-bodied adults must register for work and participate in employment and training. SNAP is open to U.S. citizens and some classifications of noncitizens.

To receive SNAP benefits, a household must have a gross monthly income at or under 130 percent of the federal poverty level and a net monthly income after deductions of 100 percent or less than the federal poverty level as of 2015. A household’s gross income is the combined income of all members before deductions, such as a 20 percent earned-income deduction, a standard deduction based on household size, a dependent-care deduction, medical costs for disabled or elderly members and a deduction for excess shelter and utility costs. Households with at least one disabled or elderly member only need to meet the net income requirements.

Households must also meet the countable resource limits of $2,250 per household, or $3,250 if at least one member is disabled or elderly as of 2015. However, the SNAP program does not count some resources, such as primary homes and retirement plans, and most states do not count vehicles. Healthy adults between the ages of 16 and 60 must accept suitable employment or training to remain in the SNAP program. Legal immigrants who have lived in the United States for at least five years, are disabled or are under 18 may qualify for the SNAP program.