A One-Stop Shop For All Your Food Stamp Questions

Fri Apr 18, 2014 18:27:12PM

Do you find yourself struggling to pay for food on a weekly basis and wondering how you are going to feed your family or yourself another meal? Have you always questioned whether you are eligible for assistance, but don't know where to look or how to sign up? Look no further! My hope is to answer all of your questions and provide you with all the relevant information to help determine if you are eligible for some help putting food on your table.

The Food Stamp program, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is a federal program that provides food assistance for low and zero income individuals residing in the United States. The program is administered by the Department of Agriculture under the direction of the Food and Nutrition Service Administration and currently provides food assistance to 47.6 million Americans.

To be eligible for SNAP assistance, you must meet certain requirements set up by the Federal Government.

Income Requirements: First and foremost, there are specific monthly income requirements in determining eligibility. A single person can make up to $1,245 in Gross Monthly Income or $958 in Net Monthly Income in order to receive SNAP assistance. A family of four can have a Gross Monthly Income of $2,552 or $1,963 in Net Monthly Income. You can find out more by visiting the USDA website's income eligibility section.
*Gross and Net Monthly limits are higher in Alaska and Hawaii

Available Deductions: There are certain deductions that you will be able to claim when applying for SNAP assistance. It's important to factor in these important deductions if you think you may be eligible to receive assistance, but worry your monthly income is too high.

20 percent from earned income;
A standard deduction of $152 for households sizes of 1 to 3 people and $163 for a household size of 4 (higher for some larger households);
A dependent care deduction when needed for work, training, or education;
Medical expenses for elderly or disabled members that are more than $35 for the month if they are not paid by insurance or someone else;
Legally owed child support payments;
Some States allow homeless households a set amount ($143) for shelter costs; and
Excess shelter costs that are more than half of the household's income after the other deductions. Allowable costs include the cost of fuel to heat and cook with, electricity, water, the basic fee for one telephone, rent or mortgage payments and taxes on the home. (Some States allow a set amount for utility costs instead of actual costs.) The amount of the shelter deduction cannot be more than $478 unless one person in the household is elderly or disabled. (The limit is higher in Alaska, Hawaii and Guam.)
(Source: USDA.gov)

Benefits: There is a maximum amount of benefits an individual and family can collect each month. The net monthly income of a household is multiplied by .3, and the result is subtracted from the maximum allotment for the household size to find the household's total monthly allotment.
Ex: $1,139 net monthly income x .3 = $341.70 (rounded to $342)
$632 maximum allotment for 4 - $342 (30% of net income) = $290, SNAP Allotment for a full month

Maximum Monthly Allotment per Month-
1 Person ($189)
2 Persons ($347)
3 Persons ($497)
4 Persons ($632)
(Source: USDA.gov)

Employment Requirements: Able bodied adults between 18 and 50 who do not have any children or dependents can receive SNAP assistance for up to three months if they are not working and are not participating in a employment training program. Able bodied adults between 18 and 60 must also register for work, accept suitable employment, and take part in any training program referred to them by a local office.

Exceptions: Elderly individuals over the age of 60 and the disabled. CLICK HERE for more information about disability requirements.

How to Apply for SNAP Assistance: Signing up for SNAP assistance can be done by going to your local government office and filling out a paper application or logging online to the USDA website and clicking on the state you live in. You will then be directed to your state website to begin the application process.

CLICK HERE for a list of each states telephone hotline phone numbers
CLICK HERE for a list of frequently asked questions
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