If you need help paying for groceries on a weekly basis, you may want to know how to qualify for food stamps in Colorado. Officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), food stamps are issued on a state level through the state Department of Human Services (DHS). At the federal level, the program must uphold the rules and guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The program is designed to help low-income individuals and families access affordable groceries. Therefore, food stamps eligibility is largely based on a household’s total monthly income and assets. However, be mindful that food stamps qualifications expand beyond income limitations.
For instance, residents who wish to receive this type of assistance must also meet U.S. citizenship and residency requirements. Failure to meet the necessary qualifications will result in a denial. Read on to learn more about SNAP eligibility in Colorado.
Citizenship and Residency Requirements for SNAP in Colorado
In order to qualify for food stamps in Colorado, an applicant must be a U.S. citizen or have an acceptable immigration status. Consequently, undocumented residents who have no legal status in the U.S. will not meet this requirement for SNAP eligibility.
Proof of legal status or citizenship will be required during the application process to verify food stamps eligibility. For instance, citizens will be asked to provide their Social Security Numbers (SSNs), while non-citizens will need to provide an alien registration number (A-Number).
If a non-citizen who has a legal status in the U.S. wishes to apply for SNAP, there are additional requirements that he or she may need to meet. Generally, a non-citizen must meet one of the following criteria:
- The non-citizen has been a U.S. resident for the last five years.
- The non-citizen receives some form of assistance because of a disability.
- The non-citizen is younger than 18 years of age.
- The non-citizen is a refugee or asylee.
Despite the fact that not every member of a household may be eligible for assistance under these criteria, a qualified member may still apply and receive assistance. For example, if a non-citizen has not lived in the U.S. for five years but has children who are U.S. citizens, he or she may apply for food stamps on behalf of the children. That way, the individual will receive assistance for the children despite not be eligible his or herself.
For more information on requirements, download our free guide.
What are the SNAP income guidelines in Colorado?
Whether or not you meet the financial requirements for food stamp eligibility depends on both your household income and deductions. Income is determined both by the national poverty level and the number of members of your household.
In order to meet the SNAP income guidelines, you must not make more than a specific dollar amount each month. In fact, a household’s gross monthly income must not exceed 130 percent of the national poverty level.
Income, as defined by the SNAP program, accounts for all sources of earnings. Therefore, in addition to your paycheck, the following may be considered as part of your income:
- Child support
- Short-term disability payments
- Pension payments
- Unemployment payments
- Veterans Administration (VA) benefits
- Social Security benefits
After your income has been calculated, your monthly deductions will be calculated to further assess your food stamps eligibility. Generally, deductions are defined as expenses that you must pay every month, such as:
- Child support
- Rent or mortgage
- Medical expenses
You will meet the federal food stamp income guidelines if your net monthly income, or the income you have after deductions are applied, does not exceed 100 percent of the poverty level. In summary, you must meet both the gross and net income requirements in order to qualify for food stamps in Colorado.
To assist you in determining this aspect of eligibility, you may want to consider using a SNAP calculator. This tool allows you to input information about your household, income and assets, determining whether or not you may be eligible for assistance based on SNAP guidelines.
Other Important Food Stamps Qualifications in Colorado
Most applicants must meet specific work requirements in order to qualify for SNAP. As a general rule, the program requires all able-bodied adults to work or participate in a work program for at least 20 hours a week in order to receive benefits. Additional work requirements include:
- Registering for work.
- Not quitting a job or reducing work hours.
- Accepting a job that is offered to you.
- Participating in any work training programs that Colorado requires.
It is important to note that not all individuals will need to meet these requirements in order to meet food stamp eligibility requirements. Exceptions are made for individuals who have children or who have a disability, as well as pregnant women and the elderly.
Furthermore, there are separate SNAP guidelines to consider for households with seniors or residents who have a disability. In addition to not having to meet work requirements, households with seniors or people with disabilities must meet only one of the income requirements discussed previously. Overall, these households are only required to meet the gross or net income limits outlined by the USDA, not both.
How do you maintain your food stamps in Colorado?
After you start receiving benefits, you will be routinely assessed to ensure that you still meet Colorado SNAP eligibility requirements. This means that you must continue to meet the work requirements in place and remain within the food stamps income limits.
Keep in mind that any changes to your income could affect the amount of benefits that you receive, or whether you meet the eligibility criteria at all. For example, if you begin to work more hours or accept a new job, you may start earning more money. In which case, you may no longer meet the net or gross monthly income requirements.
It is important to accurately report your income information whenever you are re-evaluated for food stamps eligibility. Lying about whether or not you meet these requirements is a crime. Therefore, lying about your eligibility may result in fines or even jail time.
For more information on food stamps requirements, download our free guide now.