Your food stamps eligibility in Montana is determined by the state Department of Public Health and Human Service (DPHHS). This benefit, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is available for low-income families and individuals who meet basic citizenship and residency requirements. If you qualify for food stamps, you can receive assistance for a set amount of time. After this period ends, you must recertify your eligibility in order to keep getting benefits.
Using a SNAP calculator can help you determine if you are eligible for assistance. However, the only sure way to tell if you qualify is to follow the application steps established by the DPHHS. After applying, you will receive a benefit determination letter that indicates whether or not you are approved. Read below to learn more about the food stamp qualifications you need to meet and find out how to maintain your eligibility in the future.
Citizenship and Residency Requirements for SNAP in Montana
One of the most basic SNAP eligibility requirements is that you are a U.S. citizen or a legal resident. If your household has a mix of legal and non-legal residents, it is possible for the members who are legally present to receive benefits. In such cases, you still need to count the income and resources of everyone who lives in your household. That is because non-legal residents may still financially contribute to the household as a whole.
When assessing your food stamps eligibility, it helps to understand that a household is defined as any group of people who reside together and share meals. As such, you do not necessarily need to be related to one another to count as a household.
In addition to being a U.S. citizen or legal alien, you must also be a resident of Montana in order to get benefits from the DPHHS. Overall, it is important to note that the SNAP eligibility requirements are similar in every state. Therefore, if you meet the basic requirements in Montana but are not a state resident, it is possible that you will qualify in the state where you actually reside.
What are the SNAP income guidelines in Montana?
Meeting the food stamp income guidelines is the next step in becoming eligible for assistance. Under the SNAP income guidelines, your gross income must be at or below 130 percent of the poverty level. By definition, gross income is what you make before deductions are taken off.
The requirements vary slightly depending on whether you are a senior or have a disability, which would allow you to qualify with a net income that is 100 percent of the poverty level. By definition, net income is what you earn after taxes and deductions are taken out. Alternatively, households that do not include seniors or people with disabilities must fall below the limits for both net and gross income.
Under the income requirements for food stamps, nearly every source of income is counted. For example, wages from a job, benefit awards from other programs, pension payments and unemployment compensation will all count as income. Moreover, it is important to remember that you must count the income of each household member, even those who are not eligible for benefits due to their citizenship status or other factors.
Most households are able to take certain deductions from their income. For instance, the SNAP income guidelines may allow you to deduct some of the following:
- A percentage of earned income.
- The cost of dependent child care in some situations.
- Medical expenses that exceed a certain amount and are not covered by insurance.
- Shelter and utility expenses that exceed a certain amount.
- Child support payments.
In addition to having a low income, the SNAP guidelines also require that you have a limited amount of resources and/or assets. As a general rule, a resource is something with monetary value.
Resources that you must count include assets such as your bank account, cash on hand, savings bonds, investments and/or stocks. On the other hand, your car, home and personal possessions are usually not counted as resources. Learn more about the income and resource requirements you must meet by reading our free guide.
Other Important Food Stamps Qualifications in Montana
Your Montana SNAP eligibility is also based on whether or not you have a Social Security number (SSN). Generally, every member of your household who wants to receive benefits must have an SSN.
It is possible to qualify for food stamps for a short period of time if you have applied for an SSN and are waiting for it to be assigned to you. However, people who are ineligible for an SSN cannot get benefits from this program, even if they meet the other requirements.
Food stamps eligibility may also be affected by whether or not you meet certain work requirements. In most cases, you must register for work if you are between 18 and 59 years of age in order to get benefits for an extended period of time. Failing to register when required to do so means that you are only eligible for a limited time.
Be mindful that there are certain exemptions regarding the work requirements. For example, you might not need to meet the work requirements if you have a disability, are pregnant or raise dependents.
Registering for work means that you agree to work a certain number of hours per week, accept reasonable job offers and participate in any required training. However, keep in mind that the exact requirements may vary based on your circumstances. More often than not, you may already be qualified if you are currently employed and work enough hours per week.
How do you maintain your food stamps in Montana?
In addition to learning how to qualify for food stamps in Montana, it also helps to understand how to maintain your eligibility during the enrollment period. The best way to remain eligible is to follow all of the program rules. As an example, you may be disqualified or have your benefits restricted if you commit any of the following program violations:
- Selling, trading or giving away your benefits.
- Providing false information on an application.
- Buying ineligible items or using benefits at unapproved locations.
- Altering SNAP documents or cards.
Keep in mind that your food stamps eligibility in MT may change over time if your income goes up or down or if other factors change. In such cases, your benefit amount may be affected or you could lose your benefits altogether.
In most situations, you are required to report any significant changes to the DPHHS. Overall, your benefit award letter will tell you which types of information you need to report and how soon you need to notify the DPHHS. Learn more about keeping your SNAP benefits by downloading our free guide.
Last Updated: September 27, 2022