Learn About Virginia Food Stamps Requirements
Your food stamps eligibility in Virginia is determined by the state Department of Social Services (DSS). This program, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is open to low-income families and individuals who meet a few basic requirements. It is possible for members of your household to meet the food stamps qualifications while others do not. In such cases, the amount of assistance you receive is based on the number of people who are eligible.
Your VA SNAP eligibility may change over time when your circumstances change. You must maintain your eligibility to keep getting benefits. In any case, it is necessary to renew your benefits when they expire in order to keep getting assistance. Read below to learn how to qualify for food stamps and discover what might cause your eligibility to change in the future.
Citizenship and Residency Requirements for SNAP in Virginia
Before you can qualify for food stamps in Virginia, you must be a resident of the state. While SNAP is federally funded, each state is in charge of running its own separate program. The SNAP eligibility requirements are somewhat similar in every state, which means you may be able to qualify in your home state if you are not a Virginia resident.
In addition to being a resident, you can only qualify for food stamps if you are a U.S. citizen or a legally-present alien. The state DSS will check your legal presence when it receives your application. If anyone in your household is not a legal resident, you do not need to include him or her as a petitioner on your application.
However, you still need to consider the income and resources of everyone in your household. Because non-legal residents may still contribute to your household financially, this may affect your overall eligibility. Remember that the amount of assistance you receive is based on the number of people in your home who are qualified.
What are the SNAP income guidelines in Virginia?
The Virginia food stamp income guidelines require that you meet requirements for net and gross income. Gross income is the amount you earn before taxes, while net income is the amount you have left over after taxes and deductions are taken out.
The income requirements for food stamps may be a little different if you live in a household with a senior or a person with a disability. In most cases, you can qualify just by meeting the net income requirements.
Under the SNAP guidelines, you must count income from nearly every source. This can include both earned and unearned income. For example, you must count income from all of the following sources:
- Wages from employment.
- Money you earn from other services.
- Money you receive from a pension.
- Unemployment money or worker’s compensation.
- Benefits you receive from other government programs such as Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
The SNAP income guidelines 2019 allow you to take certain deductions, which may make it easier to qualify. Many households qualify for a standard deduction, which is based on the number of people in the home. In many cases, you may also be able to take a deduction for the following things:
- A percentage of your earned income.
- The cost of child care that you pay.
- Outgoing child support payments that you legally owe.
- Medical expenses that exceed a certain amount and are not covered by insurance.
- A portion of your rent and utility expenses, if they exceed a certain amount.
The Virginia SNAP income guidelines also outline the number of resources you are allowed to have. A resource is something with value, such as the balance of your bank account, any cash you have on hand or things such as stocks, bonds or investments. You typically do not need to include the value of your home, car or personal possessions when counting your resources for this program.
Learn more about how income and resources affect your food stamps qualifications by downloading our free guide.
Other Important Food Stamps Qualifications in Virginia
In addition to meeting the income and citizenship requirements, your food stamps eligibility is also based on whether you have a Social Security Number (SSN). Moreover, you may be able to qualify for food stamps in Virginia for a short period of time if you have applied for an SSN but are still waiting for a number to be assigned to you.
If anyone in your household does not have an SSN, he or she will not qualify for benefits. However, remember that it may still be necessary to count the income and resources of everyone in your home, even ineligible members.
Some of the VA food stamp qualifications also relate to your employment status. If you are between 18 and 59 years of age, you must register for work. The only exceptions are for applicants who have a disability, are pregnant or raise dependents. If you are between this age range and do not meet the work requirements, you can only qualify for food stamps for three months within a three-year period.
Registering for work means that you agree to meet certain employment expectations. This can include doing any of the following:
- Taking any reasonable job offer you get.
- Working for the required number of hours per week.
- Not quitting or reducing your work hours without good cause.
- Taking part in any required employment training.
If you are already employed, note that you might already meet SNAP eligibility in Virginia. Learn more about these requirements by downloading our free guide.
How do you maintain your food stamps in Virginia?
Your food stamp qualifications may change in the future. For example, an increase in your family’s income may mean that your benefit amount goes down or that you are no longer eligible for assistance.
Generally, you cannot control certain changes that may affect your benefits. However, the best way to ensure you keep your food stamps eligibility in Virginia is to follow all of the program rules. Unfortunately, you may be banned temporarily or permanently from the program if you misuse your benefits or commit other program violations.