Before you can apply for food assistance in the state, you must make sure that you meet the requirements for food stamps eligibility in Missouri. Formerly referred to as food stamps, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is designed to help low-income individuals and families buy healthy food. Therefore, income is one of the main requirements that you must meet to qualify for food stamps.
In Missouri, the Department of Social Services (DSS) administers the program and distributes funds to qualifying households. During the application process, these families must meet income limits according to their household size in order to qualify. They must also meet other food stamp qualifications related to their residency and legal citizenship status. In certain cases, applicants may automatically qualify for the program or may be eligible to receive expedited food stamp services.
In addition to these eligibility requirements, participants of the program must maintain their status by meeting criteria related to employment. Continue below to learn more about SNAP eligibility in Missouri.
Citizenship and Residency Requirements for SNAP in Missouri
In order to meet the requirements for food stamps eligibility in Missouri, you must be a resident of the state. Otherwise, you will need to apply for SNAP in the actual state where you reside. Additionally, you must be a U.S. citizen or a qualifying non-citizen (such as a legal resident) to receive these benefits. Generally, SNAP does not accept undocumented non-citizens into the program. Instead, noncitizens must meet one of the following criteria to qualify for food stamps:
- Be a minor younger than 18 years of age
- Receive disability assistance or benefits
- Have lived in the U.S. for a minimum of five years
If certain individuals in your household are ineligible for SNAP due to their citizenship status, Missouri still takes into account the remaining household members who meet the citizenship or residency requirements. For example, you can still apply for SNAP on behalf of your children if you have lived in the U.S. for less than five years.
You will need to provide important information regarding all household members, including each member’s Social Security Number (SSN), so that a local agency can verify each member’s SNAP eligibility. Moreover, keep in mind that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may be contacted to verify the immigration status of any household member.
It is important to note that your benefit allotment will not be affected by your citizenship status. However, your household will only receive enough benefits for qualifying members of your household. To find out more about these food stamp qualifications, download our free guide.
What are the SNAP income guidelines in Missouri?
In order to be eligible for food assistance, you must meet SNAP income guidelines. In general, the program takes into account both your household’s combined gross income and net income in relation to your household size and makeup.
By definition, your gross income is the amount of money you make before any deductions, while your net income refers to your income after allowable deductions have been made. If your household includes a senior or a person with a disability, you only need to meet the net income limit.
In Missouri, you cannot make more than 130 percent of the federal poverty level. This means that you cannot have an income that exceeds $1,307 if you are a household of one person. If you are a family of six, your household’s monthly gross income cannot exceed $3,571. Income requirements for food stamps are based on the cost of living for that fiscal year. In any case, when calculating your net income, the following deductions are allowed:
- A 20 percent deduction from your earned income
- Dependent care
- Medical expenses for elderly or disabled members
- Housing costs, such as electricity and water
As a general rule, be mindful that households cannot deduct more than $535 in housing costs, unless a member of the household is a senior or has a disability. To learn more about food stamp income guidelines, download our free guide.
Other Important Food Stamps Qualifications in Missouri
In addition to SNAP income guidelines, there are other qualifications that you must satisfy in order to be eligible for this program. For example, if you are an able-bodied adult without dependents, you are required to work or participate in a work program. Otherwise, you will only be eligible to receive SNAP benefits for no more than three months within a 36-month period.
Moreover, you cannot voluntarily quit your job or reduce your work hours to meet income limits. If you are unemployed, then you must actively register for work and take a suitable job (if offered) in order to qualify for food stamps. You may also need to participate in an employment and training program, if you are required to do so by the DSS.
In some cases, you do not need to satisfy work requirements to meet SNAP eligibility. These exceptions are in place for pregnant women, children, seniors and people with disabilities. By definition, seniors consist of those who are 60 years of age or older. Additionally, people with disabilities include:
- Those who receive government assistance from the state due to their disability or blindness status.
- Veterans who are completely disabled and/or permanently homebound.
- Those who receive an annuity under the Railroad Retirement Act.
How do you maintain your food stamps in Missouri?
After you have been accepted into the SNAP program, you will need to maintain your food stamps eligibility to continue receiving benefits. Alternatively, you will be denied from receiving benefits if you do not follow these work requirements. In addition, your food stamp benefits can be taken away if you participate in any of the following:
- Sell your benefits for cash or consideration other than eligible food
- Lie or hide information in order to meet SNAP eligibility requirements
- Use benefits to purchase nonfood items, such as alcohol or tobacco products
- Purchase products to exchange them for cash or resale
You can continue to receive SNAP benefits for as long as your certification period allows. When it comes time for recertification, you will need to update the DSS regarding your income and assess whether you continue to meet food stamp qualifications.
Keep in mind that your total benefit amount may increase or decrease depending on your income. Therefore, if you work more hours or accept a higher paying job, you may start earning more money. In which case, you may not meet SNAP income guidelines at all.