If you are struggling to buy groceries each month, you may be wondering how to qualify for food stamps in Maine. Sometimes called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Food Supplement Program, food stamps help millions of low-income Americans access affordable food on a monthly basis.
Although administered on a local level by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the food stamps program is a federal initiative. Therefore, Maine’s eligibility requirements must fall within the guidelines and regulations set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The primary requirement for SNAP eligibility is the household size and income. A household typically needs to meet both gross and net income requirements in order to meet the necessary guidelines. However, there are also additional requirements that must be met such as citizenship, residency and maintaining a certain number of work hours a week. Read on to learn more about food stamps eligibility in Maine.
Citizenship and Residency Requirements for SNAP in Maine
In order to have food stamp eligibility in ME, you must live in the state of Maine. If you live in another state, then you may apply for the appropriate food stamps program there.
Additionally, food stamp qualifications include citizenship. To receive benefits, you must either be a U.S. citizen or maintain an acceptable immigration status within the U.S. An acceptable immigration status in terms of the food supplement program may include the following:
- Refugee or asylee status
- Legal permanent resident status with 40 qualifying hours of Social Security work coverage
- Native Americans who cross over Canadian or Mexican borders
Keep in mind that some members of your household may be eligible for assistance while others are not. For example, you may not have eligibility while your two children with U.S. citizenship do. In this case, you may apply for food stamp benefits for your children on their behalf.
What are the SNAP income guidelines in Maine?
In addition to citizenship and residency, the primary qualification for food stamps is income. The SNAP income guidelines are based on the federal poverty level (FPL) for different household sizes. The guidelines also include both gross and net monthly income limits.
Gross monthly income refers to the income a household has before taxes and certain expenses are deducted. For the purposes of the food supplement program, income may include that earned from employment and that from other sources such as child support. Net monthly income refers to the amount of income a household has after certain expenses, such as rent, are deducted.
Most households will need to meet both gross and net income requirements for food stamps. However, households with an elderly or disabled individual may only need to meet the net monthly requirement.
In addition to income, households must also report their countable resources or assets. To qualify for food stamps, the household must not exceed $5,000 in countable resources (a higher amount may be permitted if the household has a member older than 60 years of age). Keep in mind that some resources are not used in this calculation, such as:
- Home and household goods.
- Personal belongings.
- Life insurance.
In order to help you determine whether or not you fall within food stamp income guidelines and meet the necessary asset limit, you may want to consider using a SNAP calculator. This tool is available online and can be used to determine if your family may be eligible for SNAP assistance. To use it, you will simply need to input your household’s size and income information.
For more information about the SNAP income guidelines, download our free guide here.
Other Important Food Stamps Qualifications in Maine
In addition to the requirements listed, all able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) will need to meet specific work requirements to maintain ME SNAP eligibility. An ABAWD is any adult between the ages of 16 and 60 who does not meet certain exemptions, such as being pregnant, being declared unfit for work or being the primary caretaker of an incapacitated adult.
ABAWDs are required to either work or participate in a work training program for at least 20 hours per week if they wish to receive benefits. ABAWDs between the ages of 18 and 50 who do not meet this requirement will not be able to receive benefits for more than three months within a 36-month period.
In addition to these work requirements, ABAWDs must agree to certain rules regarding work. For example, to meet food stamp qualifications, an ABAWD must not quit a job that they already have or refuse a job they are offered if they are not already working. An ABAWD also may not voluntarily reduce his or her work hours.
Additionally, college students, or students at another form of higher education, will need to meet additional requirements in order to be eligible for food stamps. Although most students will not be eligible for SNAP, some may meet the requirements if they:
- Take part in a work-study program.
- Work at least 20 hours per week.
- Receive public assistance.
- Have a child younger than 12 with no suitable childcare.
- Are assigned to go to school through a public assistance program.
For more information about food stamp qualifications, download our free guide today.
How do you maintain your food stamps in Maine?
After you begin receiving SNAP benefits, you will be required to keep your case up to date. This means that you will need to prove that you are meeting work requirements and update the DHHS on any changes to your financial situation.
Keep in mind that as you are meeting the program’s work requirements, you may begin to earn more income. As such, your food stamps eligibility or the amount of benefits you are eligible to receive may change. Typically, if you earn more income, you become eligible for a smaller benefit amount.
However, it is important to ensure that you report your information accurately and completely to the DHSS. Misrepresenting your eligibility is a crime that could result in loss of benefits, fines and even jail time.
Last Updated: September 27, 2022