Your food stamps eligibility in West Virginia is determined by the state Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), which follows the guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). As a result, you will need to understand both state and federal regulations to have a clear understanding of whether you qualify for benefits.
The main WV food stamp qualifications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have to do with your citizenship status, income and assets. Moreover, you must meet a number of work requirements if you want to continue to receive benefits during your eligibility period. Reviewing these guidelines ahead of time will help you decide whether undergoing the application steps is worth your time.
Citizenship and Residency Requirements for SNAP in West Virginia
When determining your SNAP eligibility in West Virginia, one of the first steps is to review the rules regarding citizenship and residency. As a general rule, you must live in the state where you file a SNAP application, and you must be a U.S. citizen or a legal non-citizen in order to qualify.
If you are a legal non-citizen, you will need to meet additional requirements. This is because some non-citizens may not qualify for benefits, depending on their circumstances.
Lawful permanent residents (LPRs) and some non-citizens, for instance, are required to wait a minimum of five years before they can apply for benefits if they fall into one of the following categories:
- LPRs who have earned or can be credited with 40 tax quarters of work
- Non-citizens who have been paroled for a minimum of one year
- Non-citizens who have been granted conditional entry
- Battered spouses, children or parents who are awaiting the decision on a petition
Some other applicants may qualify for food stamps after a five-year waiting period. On the other hand, if you are seeking asylum, the five-year rule may not apply to you. Other applicants who are exempt from the five-year minimum include:
- Certain children of non-citizens.
- Certain refugees.
- Victims of human trafficking.
- Non-citizens who have had their deportations withheld.
- LPRs who receive disability payments from a government assistance program.
- LPRs who have served in the military. The spouses or children of military members or veterans may qualify as well.
Additionally, your WV food stamps eligibility depends on whether you and your household members have Social Security numbers (SSNs). If a household member is applying for an SSN, he or she must submit proof from the Social Security Administration (SSA) to the DHHR.
It should be mentioned that household members who do not wish to participate in the program may be left off of the application. However, the incomes of non-participating household members will still be taken into consideration, if applicable.
An online SNAP calculator may give you a better idea of how your immigration status affects your eligibility. The Federal Nutrition Service (FNS) offers a pre-screening eligibility tool that all potential applicants may use. If you use this or another pre-screening tool, you will most likely have to submit the following information:
- The number of people in your household
- Your monthly income
- The number of family members who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- The number of family members who are children or seniors
What are the SNAP income guidelines in West Virginia?
The SNAP income guidelines in West Virginia describe a set of maximum income levels for each household size. If you want to qualify for the program, your income must fall below the maximum level that applies to your household.
The monthly gross income of a household with four family members, for instance, must not exceed $3,007. Their monthly net income, which is calculated by making allowable deductions, must not exceed $2,313.
There are certain exceptions to this rule. For instance, applicants who are 60 years of age or older only have to meet the net income requirement. Applicants who have a disability also do not need to meet the gross income requirement.
According to the food stamp income guidelines, an applicant is considered disabled if he or she receives monetary federal assistance for a disability. Applicants who are recognized as disabled by Veterans Affairs (VA) are considered disabled for the purposes of SNAP as well.
If you want to calculate your net income, you must make allowable deductions. The SNAP income guidelines allow you to take:
- A deduction of 20 percent from your earned income.
- A standard deduction, the size of which depends on your household. For instance, a two-person household may deduct $193 from their earned income, while a five-person household may deduct $225.
- A dependent care deduction for work, training or school, if applicable.
- A child support payments deduction, if those payments are court-ordered.
- Excess shelter deduction, if the cost of your rent, utility bills and certain other expenses cost more than half of your income.
The income requirements for food stamps also state that your countable assets and resources will be considered. Countable assets such as cash on hand, money in bank accounts, stocks and bonds will all be factored into your eligibility. Assets that will not be counted include:
- The value of your home.
- Pension and retirement savings, in most circumstances.
- Monetary assistance from TANF or SSI.
- Certain vehicles, depending on your circumstances.
To learn more about qualifying for SNAP based on your income, download our free guide.
Other Important Food Stamp Qualifications in West Virginia
You must also know how to qualify for food stamps in WV based on the program work requirements. First and foremost, you must be registered to work if you are an able-bodied adult without dependents (ABAWD). If you voluntarily quit or reduce your work hours, you may lose your eligibility.
Applicants who are also students may qualify for benefits only if they are enrolled in an approved school or training program. Furthermore, these applicants must be enrolled at least part-time and may need to show proof of their work-study programs.
Lastly, you and your household members must all pass a background check. Certain crimes or misdemeanors that show up on a background check will result in loss of eligibility.
How do you maintain your food stamps in West Virginia?
You must continue to meet the food stamp qualifications in WV if you want to keep receiving benefits. In other words, you may lose your eligibility if your earnings go above the maximum income level for your household.
Keep in mind, however, that you are not required to report changes in income as long as the gross earnings of your household stay below this maximum level. Find out other ways to maintain your qualifications for SNAP when you download our free guide.