To get food stamps, you have to meet the requirements. Thousands of people ask to get food stamps every year. If you qualify, you will get food stamps for a set number of months. Each state has its own requirements, but these tips can help you understand the basic requirements to get food stamps.
Food stamps requirements can be complicated. You have to give information about what you earn, where you are from, how much you worked and more. These tips can help you find out if you might qualify for food stamps.
About Citizenship and Residency Requirements for SNAP
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or “SNAP” has special rules you have to follow. You have to live in the state where you apply. You have to be a citizen or legal resident of the United States, too.
You have to prove that you meet these requirements with documents. Documents that can help you prove that you qualify include:
- A birth certificate.
- A green card.
- A Social Security card.
- Another document issued by the government.
Do you not qualify for food stamps? You can still apply for food stamps for the people who live with you. For example, you can apply for your kids to get SNAP benefits. Just keep in mind that how much you earn will still be counted in the application.
If you are not a U.S. citizen, there are special rules you have to follow to get benefits:
- You have to live in the U.S. legally for five years.
- You have to get disability benefits.
- You have to be 17 or younger.
- You have to be asking for asylum from your country.
If you meet some or all of these rules, you might qualify.
Your state might have a SNAP calculator that can tell you if you might get food stamps. The tool will ask questions about the different factors that can make you qualify, like what you earn, if you are disabled and if you are a citizen.
For more information about SNAP requirements, download our free guide.
How much can you make and still get food stamps?
There are food stamp income guidelines that you have to meet to get benefits. The amount you can make and still get food stamps depends on how many people live in your house.
There are income rules for your gross income (what you earned before taxes) and your net income (what you earned after taxes were taken out). Some people only have to meet net income requirements, like seniors and disabled people.
Here’s an example.
As of October 1, 2022, if you were the only person in your house trying to get food stamps and lived in one of the 48 contiguous states, you could only make $1,473 monthly before taxes. Note that income limits are different in Hawaii and Alaska.
The income rules change every year. Different states have special rules, too. So make sure to double-check these income rules every year to see if you might qualify.
The main difference between gross and net income is that net income is lower because of taxes. But there are other things that can make your net income lower, too. You can only get food stamps if your income is less than the limit, so if your net income is lower, it might make a difference for whether you can get benefits and how much your benefits will be.
Some of the other things that might make your income lower are:
- Taking away 20 percent of what your household made.
- Taking away a deduction if you cared for a dependent kid or loved one.
- Taking away a deduction for your medical bills if you are a senior or disabled and paid over a certain amount on medical bills.
- Taking away a deduction for utility bills like rent, water and electricity.
- Taking away a standard deduction. This is a number decided by the government based on how many people live with you and are applying for SNAP.
Keep in mind that different states have different rules for deductions, too. For example, New York might not let you deduct water or heat utility bills if you live in an apartment, because those utilities are usually paid by landlords.
Your state will tell you how much you can make your income lower for every deduction.
To learn more about SNAP rules, get our free guide.
Learn About Other Important Food Stamps Requirements
You have to follow work rules to get food stamps.
- Every adult in your house that can work has to have a job.
- They cannot quit their job or work fewer hours after they apply.
- If an adult in your house doesn’t have a job, they have to take a job if they get an offer.
Students have to meet extra requirements.
- They have to be 18 or older.
- They have to be studying part-time or full-time in an approved program.
- They have to have a job and work a certain amount every week.
Everyone in your house will get their background checked to make sure they qualify.
Your state might ask you to enroll in an employment and training program, too. The program will give you job-hunting advice and help with finding a career.
What can I do to keep getting food stamps?
Your food stamps office will let you know if you qualify. They will tell you how long you will get food stamps, too. This amount of time is called your certification period.
To get food stamps after the certification period is finished, contact your food stamps office. Some states will ask you to reapply before your certification period is over.
To keep getting food stamps, you have to keep following the rules above. You might lose your food stamps if you stop meeting the requirements. You might lose your benefits if you don’t let the food stamps office know about a change in your income, too.