SNAP Benefits: How Is Eligibility Determined?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, assists qualified households with food purchases.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), most families that satisfy the program’s income standards are considered eligible, with the quantity of a family’s SNAP benefit determined by its income and certain costs.

According to the CBPP, federal law requires that a household’s income and resources fulfill three requirements to qualify for benefits:

  • Monthly gross income, defined as a household’s monthly income before program deductions, must be equal to or less than 130 percent of the federal poverty level.
  • In 2022, the poverty threshold for a family of three is $1,830 per month, and 130 percent is $2,379 per month or around $28,550 per year.
  • Net income, defined as family income after deductions, must be equal to or less than the federal poverty level.
  • Assets must fall below certain levels. Households without a person aged 60 or over or who is disabled must have assets of no more than $2,500, while households with such a member must have assets of no more than $3,750.

SNAP considers all sources of income, including earned income before payroll taxes and unearned income.

Assets are financial resources accessible to a household to purchase food, such as bank accounts. The household’s primary residence, personal property, retirement funds, and most cars are not included. States, the CBPP asserts, have the authority to waive asset limitations.

Additionally, there is a three-month time limit. However, Congress halted it until the month following the conclusion of the federal public health emergency, the CBPP stated.

Individuals between 18 and 50 are restricted to three months of SNAP benefits every three years unless they work or are enrolled in a labor or training program that requires them to earn 20 hours per week.

Exemptions include people who live in households with children, those who are physically or psychologically unable to work, pregnant women, and anyone declared to be exempt.

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Additionally, some individuals may be ineligible for SNAP assistance even if they fulfill the income standards, the CBPP noted. It includes people on strike, those without established immigration status, some college students who attend more than half-time, and some lawfully present immigrants.

To qualify for SNAP benefits, the United States Department of Agriculture states that applicants must apply in the state where they presently reside and fulfill certain income and resource requirements. Each year, the SNAP qualifying conditions are changed.