Food stamps eligibility in Tennessee is based on a number of factors. This program, which is officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is generally open to low-income families and individuals. There are a variety of basic requirements that all applicants must meet. However, certain qualifications vary depending on a petitioner’s particular situation.
If you believe that you meet the requirements for SNAP eligibility in Tennessee, you may apply for help through the state Department of Human Service (TDHS). Keep in mind that your eligibility may change over time, which can affect the total amount of benefits you qualify for. Read below to learn how to qualify for food stamps and find out how to maintain your eligibility for the future.
Citizenship and Residency Requirements for SNAP in Tennessee
Some of the most basic food stamp qualifications in Tennessee require you to be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or a legal resident. In order to prove your status, you will need to provide documentation pertaining to your legal presence. On the other hand, be mindful that not all legal immigrants will qualify for food stamps, but you may still submit an application to check your eligibility.
If certain members of a household are legally present, but others are not, it is possible to obtain assistance just for the legal residents and U.S. citizens included in your household. For example, the children of illegal aliens may meet the requirements for food stamps eligibility in Tennessee even if their parents do not. In such cases, the amount of assistance granted is based on the number of people who are in the U.S. legally.
Regardless of your citizenship, you must be a resident of Tennessee in order to get benefits. If you meet the other SNAP eligibility requirements but do not reside in Tennessee, you may be able to apply for assistance in your home state instead. Learn more about these requirements by reading our free guide.
What are the SNAP income guidelines in Tennessee?
Understanding the food stamp income guidelines in Tennessee is the next step in determining your eligibility. In general, you can only meet food stamps eligibility if your income is at or below 130 percent of the poverty level. If your household is made entirely of seniors and/or people with disabilities, you can typically qualify for benefits if your income is at or below 165 percent of the poverty level.
Ultimately, the SNAP income guidelines vary based on your household size. The larger your family, the higher your income may be. With that in mind, you must add up the income of each household member when determining your eligibility. Keep in mind that a household includes everyone who lives together and shares meals. You do not necessarily need to be related to one another to count as a single household.
When learning about the income requirements for food stamps in TN, it helps to know what does and what does not count as income. In most cases, income can include money you receive from the following sources:
- A job or self-employment
- Alimony or child support
- Worker’s compensation
- Unemployment benefits
- Disability benefits
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Under the Tennessee SNAP guidelines, you usually will not include funds you receive for scholarships, grants or most loans. Certain other types of income may be excluded as well.
If you meet the SNAP income guidelines, it is still necessary that you meet the financial resource requirements as well. Generally, you must have a limited amount of resources in order to qualify. If there are any seniors or people with disabilities in your household, you can typically qualify with a higher amount of financial resources.
A resource/asset may include cash you have on hand, the balance of your checking and/or savings account, stocks, bonds and any property you own aside from the lot that you live on. Alternatively, resources do not include your home, retirement plan, personal property or household goods. In most cases, your car is not a resource unless it exceeds a certain value and is not used for transportation or your commute to work.
Other Important Food Stamps Qualifications in Tennessee
While many of the food stamp qualifications in Tennessee vary depending on your circumstances, certain requirements apply to everyone. For example, you can only have food stamps eligibility in Tennessee if you have a Social Security number (SSN) or can prove that you have applied for one. Any household member who does not provide an SSN will be ineligible to receive benefits.
Another requirement you may need to meet relates to your employment. If you are an able-bodied adult between 18 and 59 years of age, you may need to register for work prior to starting the SNAP application process. This means that you agree to maintain a certain number of work hours per week, participate in job training (if required) or take any reasonable job offers. If you do not meet the work requirements, you can only qualify for food stamps for a limited amount of time.
As mentioned previously, some of the SNAP eligibility requirements are a little different for seniors and people with disabilities. For example, these households can have more financial resources and a higher income level. Moreover, households that contain a senior or a person with disabilities can deduct medical expenses that go over a certain amount. Other beneficiaries are not allowed to do this.
How do you maintain your food stamps in Tennessee?
Your SNAP eligibility in Tennessee may change over time if your circumstances do not remain the same. For example, an increase or decrease in your income will affect the amount of benefits you are eligible to receive. Additionally, you may lose your benefits if you are no longer eligible due to a change in your circumstances.
In order to maintain your food stamps eligibility, you are required to report any changes to your income or household composition to the TDHS. Otherwise, failing to notify the TDHS of changes can put your eligibility at risk. If you are unsure of your eligibility, using a SNAP calculator may help determine if you still meet the requirements based on your income, financial resources, family size and other factors.
In any case, your household will only receive benefits for a set amount of time before you must undergo a review. During this review, you will need to recertify your eligibility and provide any necessary proof of your circumstances. Overall, your food stamps eligibility will continue as long as you still meet the requirements. Learn more about requirements by downloading our free guide.
Last Updated: February 27, 2023