If you are wondering whether you meet food stamps eligibility in Pennsylvania, it will help you to look at the program requirements regarding citizenship, income and employment. In general, these are the main factors that the state Department of Human Services (DHS) considers. Therefore, if you meet all of them, you have a good chance of qualifying. It is important to remember, however, that the only way to truly know if you qualify is to undergo the application process.
In addition to meeting these food stamp qualifications in PA, you must meet the work requirements and pass a background check. Keep in mind that every member of your household is not required to participate in the program. However, those that wish to participate must meet all the requirements as well.
Citizenship and Residency Requirements for SNAP in Pennsylvania
Your SNAP eligibility in Pennsylvania depends greatly on your ability to meet the citizenship and residency requirements. First, you must be a resident in the state. Second, you must be a U.S. citizen or a legal non-citizen. Moreover, you must be able to prove your status with verifiable documentation.
Furthermore, certain non-citizens may qualify after they have waited a minimum of five years to apply for benefits. These include:
- Lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who have been credited or can be credited with 40 hours of work.
- Non-citizens who have been granted conditional entry.
- Non-citizens who have been paroled for at least one year.
While SNAP has never been offered to undocumented immigrants, other non-citizens may qualify for food stamps in Pennsylvania without having to wait five years before applying. These applicants include:
- Asylum seekers.
- Certain children who are 17 years of age or younger.
- Victims of trafficking, according to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
- Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants.
- LPRs who receive benefits or cash assistance from a federal program.
- LPRs who are connected to the military. This includes veterans, veteran spouses and veteran children.
It should be noted that certain groups of non-citizens will not necessarily have a higher or lower chance to receive benefits due to their immigration status.
What are the SNAP income guidelines in Pennsylvania?
A SNAP calculator may help you determine your eligibility based on income and other factors. These pre-screening eligibility tools are similar to a quiz. As such, you must respond to the questions accurately and provide:
- The number of people in your household.
- The age of each household member.
- Your monthly income.
- Whether any household members are children, seniors or disabled.
Moreover, it is important to understand the SNAP income guidelines in PA, as these will help you quickly determine whether you qualify based on income alone. Overall, different household sizes have different maximum gross incomes.
As an example, a household of three has a maximum gross income of $2,252. Therefore, in order to qualify, that household’s income must be equal to or less than that amount.
According to the SNAP income guidelines for 2019, households that fall below the maximum gross income level must also fall below the maximum net income level. Net income is calculated by making allowable deductions. However, be mindful that deductions you can make will depend on your circumstances.
If you or a member of your household is a senior or has a disability, you only have to meet the net income requirements. Elderly and disabled applicants are allowed to make deductions if their monthly, out-of-pocket medical expenses are $35 or more.
The income requirements for food stamps in Pennsylvania also allow for the following deductions:
- A deduction of 20 percent from earned income.
- A standard deduction of $164 or potentially more, depending on the size of your household.
- A dependent care deduction, if applicable.
- Excess shelter costs, if your utility bills, lease or mortgage and other household-related expenses exceed half of your income.
Note that certain shelter costs may not be counted as a deduction. In addition, shelter deductions have a limit. Find out more about income requirements when you download our free guide.
Other Important Food Stamps Qualifications in Pennsylvania
Do you want to know how to qualify for food stamps benefits besides falling below the maximum income limit? If so, you must consider how your resources and employment may affect your eligibility.
Generally, your countable resources must not exceed $2,250. You may, however, have a higher resource limit if you have a disability or are above a certain age. A resource may be cash on hand or in a bank account or a vehicle that you own. Other countable resources include:
- Stocks and bonds
- Real estate
Your Pennsylvania food stamps eligibility will not be affected by the following types of resources, which are not counted toward your asset limit:
- Your home.
- Most retirement and pension savings.
- Vehicles that are not worth more than $1,500 and vehicles used as part of your job. For instance, a car used for taxi services does not count.
Other food stamps qualifications include the work requirements and certain student requirements if you are enrolled in school. Moreover, if you are an able-bodied adult and do not care for dependents, you must be registered to work. In such cases, be mindful that you are not allowed to voluntarily quit your job or reduce your hours.
If you want to receive benefits as a student, you must be between 18 and 49 years of age and be enrolled at least part-time in a qualifying educational program. If you are enrolled part-time, you may be required to hold a part-time job as well.
How do you maintain your food stamps in Pennsylvania?
After you receive your benefits, you must maintain your SNAP eligibility by following the rules of the program. Thus, when you receive your EBT card, you must use it to purchase only approved food items.
If a change to your circumstances occurs, you are also required to report that change to your local DHS office. For more tips on maintaining SNAP benefits, download our free guide.