In order to have food stamps eligibility in Washington D.C., you must meet several different requirements. Some of the most important ones have to do with citizenship, income levels and asset levels. In addition, you must comply with certain work regulations and be able to pass a background check. These rules apply to everyone in your household, with some exceptions.
It is important to fully understand the food stamp qualifications before you apply, so that you have a better idea of whether you qualify. Our guidelines may help you better understand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) program so that you know what to expect.
Citizenship and Residency Requirements for SNAP in Washington D.C.
You may have SNAP eligibility in D.C. if you live in the city and you are a U.S. citizen. If you are a non-citizen, you must meet additional requirements. If you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR) or a legal non-citizen, you may need to wait five years before you can apply. This rule applies to:
- LPRs who have earned or can be credited with 40 quarters of work in the U.S.
- Non-citizens who have been paroled for at least one year.
- Non-citizens who have been granted conditional entry.
Certain other applicants must also have lived legally in the U.S. for a minimum of five years before applying for benefits.
You may qualify for food stamps without waiting five years to apply under certain circumstances, as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). For instance, you may not have to wait if you are:
- A refugee.
- A victim of human trafficking.
- Seeking asylum.
- Younger than 18 years of age.
- Emigrating from Cuba or Haiti.
- An LPR who receives government assistance for a disability.
- An LPR and also a veteran, the spouses of a veteran or the child of a veteran.
Understanding how you may have food stamps eligibility in D.C. as a non-citizen will better prepare you for the application process. For example, you may learn which documents you need to present to a Department of Human Services (DHS) office in D.C. to prove that you are legally present in the country.
Keep in mind that all applicants must submit their Social Security Numbers (SSNs) to the DHS. If an applicant is in the process of receiving an SSN, he or she must present proof with a document issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
If a household member of an applicant does not wish to participate in the program, the applicant may simply leave his or her SSN section in the application blank.
You may want to use an online SNAP calculator in order to gain a better understanding of how your citizenship or non-citizen status affects your eligibility. One of these calculators, which is provided by the Federal Nutrition Service (FNS), uses the information you enter to determine your chances of receiving benefits.
In addition to asking questions about your legal presence in the U.S., this pre-screening tool will ask about:
- Your monthly income.
- The number of people in your household.
- The age of each household member.
- Your enrollment in other federal assistance programs, if applicable.
Learn more about how to qualify by downloading our free guide.
What are the SNAP income guidelines in Washington D.C.?
The SNAP income guidelines will help you determine your eligibility for the program based on your income and resources. To have basic eligibility, your gross monthly earnings must fall below a certain maximum income limit.
In order to calculate your gross monthly income, combine the incomes of all your household members who hold jobs. Do not take deductions into account at this point.
From there, compare your gross monthly earnings to the income limit that applies to your household size. If there are four people in your household, for example, your maximum income limit to qualify for the program is $2,628.
The food stamp income guidelines in D.C. state that your net earnings must fall below a maximum net income as well. To calculate your net income, the DHS will decide which deductions apply to your situation.
If one of your household members is a senior or a has a disability and receives monetary assistance, you only have to meet the net income requirements. In these circumstances, you may not have to meet even the net income requirements if your household’s gross income is below the maximum.
In addition, all applicants are entitled to a 20 percent deduction from their earned income and a standard deduction. The size of the standard deduction will depend on the size of the household. For example, a two-person household will have a deduction of $155, while a four-person household will have a deduction of $168.
According to the SNAP income guidelines for 2019, other allowable deductions include:
- A dependent care deduction, if a household member needs it for work, training or to go to school.
- Medical expenses deduction, if a senior or person with a disability in your household pays more than $35 each month on medical expenses out of pocket.
- Child support payments as ordered by a court, if applicable.
- Excess shelter costs, if you spend more than half of your income on costs living expenses such as rent and utilities.
Furthermore, the income requirements for food stamps in D.C. state that you must report any assets or forms of unearned income that you may have. Countable assets include:
- Money in bank accounts.
- Money market funds.
- Certificates of deposit.
- Stocks and bonds.
- Certain vehicles.
Note: Some vehicles will not be counted as assets under certain circumstances. If your vehicle is worth less than $1,500, for example, the DHS will not take it into consideration.
You will not have to report resources such as the value of your home, certain types of pension and retirement savings, money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Other Important Food Stamp Qualifications in Washington D.C.
If you want to know how to qualify for food stamps in D.C. beyond the income requirements, you must understand the work requirements as well.
In particular, every household member who is an adult between 18 and 59 years of age, does not have a disability and does not have dependents must be registered to work. In addition, these household members may not voluntarily reduce their hours or quit their jobs.
If you are a student, you must meet additional requirements. For instance, you will need to present proof of your enrollment in a qualifying program. You must be enrolled at least part-time, and you may need to present proof of a work-study job as well.
How do you maintain your food stamps in Washington D.C.?
If you want to continue to meet the food stamp qualifications in D.C., you must comply with the state and federal laws. As an example, you may only buy approved foods with your benefits, and you may not sell your benefits or the food you bought with them. You are also required to notify your local DHS office if you experience a change in circumstances. Get the latest information on maintaining your benefits when you download our free guide.