If you are struggling with buying groceries each month, you may be wondering how to qualify for food stamps in Maryland. Also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the food stamps program helps millions of low-income Americans afford groceries on a monthly basis.
Although the program is administered on the state level through the Maryland Department of Human Services (DHS), it is overseen on the federal level by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). SNAP eligibility requirements must align with the rules and regulations set forth by both organizations.
The primary requirement to qualify for food stamps is income. However, other factors such as citizenship, number of hours working and household size also come into play when determining whether or not a family is eligible for the program.
While the easiest way to determine whether or not you or our family is eligible for the program is to apply, it is still important to understand how the DHS makes decisions about its applicants. Read on for more information about food stamps eligibility requirements.
Citizenship and Residency Requirements for SNAP in Maryland
In order to meet Maryland food stamps eligibility guidelines, you must live in the state of Maryland. Additionally, you must be a U.S. citizen or have an acceptable immigration status. Unfortunately, undocumented immigrants are not eligible for benefits under any circumstance.
A Social Security Number (SSN) is required for every member of a household applying for assistance. If a non-citizen with legal status wishes to apply for SNAP, he or she must also apply for an SSN. Additionally, non-citizens may have to meet additional qualifications in order to have SNAP eligibility. These qualifications may include:
- Living in the U.S. for at least five years.
- Being younger than 18 years of age.
- Being a refugee or asylee.
- Already receiving assistance for a disability.
Be aware that although some members of a household may not be eligible for benefits, there may be other members who are. In cases like this, non-eligible members may apply for benefits on behalf of the rest of the household. For example, if an undocumented immigrant is the parent of two citizen children, he or she may apply for benefits on behalf of the children without actually applying themselves.
What are the SNAP income guidelines in Maryland?
The food stamp income guidelines for the state of Maryland are set by the USDA and are based on the federal poverty level (FPL) and household size. The USDA uses the FPL to set both net and gross monthly income limits.
Gross monthly income refers to the amount of money a household has before certain expenses and taxes are deducted. For the purposes of SNAP, income refers to earned funds from employment or unearned funds from other sources, such as child support. Net monthly income refers to the amount of income you have after taxes and certain deductions, such as rent, are taken out.
Most households will need to meet both gross and net monthly income requirements in order to qualify for food stamps. However, households with an elderly or disabled member only need to meet the net income requirements.
To help you determine whether or not you fall within the MD SNAP income guidelines, you may consider using a SNAP calculator. This tool is available online, free of charge. To use it, you will simply input household demographic and income information. The program will then estimate whether or not you are eligible for assistance.
For more information on the food stamp income guidelines, download our free guide.
Other Important Food Stamps Qualifications in Maryland
All able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) must meet specific work requirements in order to meet Maryland food stamp qualifications. An ABAWD is any individual between 16 and 60 years of age who does not meet specific exemptions. Some of these exemptions include being pregnant, being declared unfit for work or being the primary caretaker of a child younger than six years of age.
ABAWDs are required to meet certain standards each month. These tasks include:
- Registering for work.
- Accepting a suitable job offer.
- Not reducing work hours.
- Working at least 20 hours a week or participating in a work training program.
ABAWDs who do not meet work requirements will not be able to receive benefits for more than three months during a 36-month period. These work requirements begin once you begin to receive benefits.
There are also additional requirements for college students looking to receive SNAP benefits. It is difficult for most students between the ages of 18 and 49 to have food stamp eligibility, but they may participate in the program under certain circumstances. Examples of some of these circumstances include:
- Taking care of a child younger than 12 without adequate child care and while working.
- Working at least 20 hours a week.
- Taking part in a state- or federally-financed work study program.
- Being assigned to the school under another government program.
- Receiving assistance from the Temporary Cash Assistance program.
For more information about food stamp requirements, download our free guide.
How do you maintain your food stamps in Maryland?
In order to maintain your food stamps eligibility, you will have to update your case file regularly. You must report that you are meeting the necessary work requirements. You must also report any changes to your household situations or income.
As you begin to work more, you may also begin to earn more income. As such, the amount of benefits that you are eligible to receive may change as you update the DHS. You may become eligible for a smaller amount of benefits each time you begin to earn more income. At a certain point, you may even lose food stamp eligibility because your income has increased.
It is important to be accurate when you submit updates to the DHS. Lying about your SNAP eligibility is a crime. Being found guilty of lying on your application could result in a loss of benefits, fines or even jailtime.