How SNAP Works
The United States Department of Agriculture runs SNAP. It was developed to give low-income families a helping hand when it comes to putting food on the table, and should you qualify, it can help you do the same.
Unlike food stamps in the past, those who qualify for SNAP will get an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card to use at specific farmers’ markets and grocery stores. Such stores often have signs that say “We accept SNAP benefits,” and you can use your card in these locales similar to a debit card.
By transferring benefits to your card every month, SNAP can give you more wiggle room in your budget for other expenses while covering the necessity of proper nutrition.
SNAP Financial Requirements
To determine if you’re eligible for SNAP benefits, two main things will be considered: Your resources and income. Requirements may vary from state to state.
Resources in SNAP’s eyes include any checking or savings accounts, while some states consider having more than one car as a resource. On the other hand, the following are not resources when SNAP eligibility is being determined:
- Your home.
- The resources of people receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
Each state has its own resource limits. To find yours, contact your local office by clicking here.
In terms of income, SNAP looks at both gross and net income. Your gross income equals total income derived from sources like:
- Work wages
- Disability payments
- Veterans’ benefits
Net income, meanwhile, is how much income is left after certain deductions, such as:
- Utility costs
- Child support payments
- Dependent or child care payments
- Monthly medical expenses exceeding $35 for disabled people or anyone over 60
There are limits for both gross and net income. Gross income limits vary by state, which you can discover by contacting your local office.
Net income limits, regardless of state, must sit below 100 percent of the federal poverty level. This comes out to roughly $2,000 a month for a household with four people.
To be eligible for SNAP, most households must meet both the gross and net income limits. Exceptions include households with disabled members or people over 60, which would not have to meet the gross income limit, and households where everyone is receiving SSI or TANF benefits.
SNAP Non-Financial Requirements
Some people may not be eligible for SNAP, even if they meet the income requirements, such as:
- Undocumented immigrants
- Anyone convicted of a drug-related felonyCo
- llege students (there may be exceptions)
SNAP Work Requirements
Your local office may have its own work requirements to be eligible for SNAP. Here are some of the standard requirements you may see:
- Must register for work
- Must not voluntarily quit work
- Must take a job if offered
- If assigned, must participate in a training and employment program
Non-disabled adults without children may have to pass other work requirements as well.
Applying for SNAP
If you feel that you may be eligible for SNAP and would like to receive benefits, contact your state agency directly. You may be able to apply online, depending on location.