To calculate how much you will receive in monthly SNAP benefits -- formerly called food stamps -- you will need to know the maximum amount of benefits allowable for your household size, the net monthly income of your household and how to apply the math.
Net monthly income limits and maximum amounts of benefits you can receive are the same in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia. Limits are higher in Alaska and Hawaii.
Maximum Monthly Allotments
What the food stamp program calls allotments are maximum monthly benefit amounts based on household size. For fiscal year 2015, in the 48 contiguous states and D.C., the maximum monthly allotments based on the number of household members are:
- One person -- $194
- Two people -- $357
- Three people -- $511
- Four people -- $649
- Five people -- $771
- Six people -- $925
- Seven people -- $1,022
- Eight people -- $1,169
- More than eight people -- add an additional $146 per person
Monthly Income and Deductions
Beneficiaries are allowed to subtract certain deductions from gross monthly income to obtain the net monthly income when determining SNAP eligibility. These deductions include 20 percent of earned income, plus an additional $155 for households with 1 to 3 members and $165 for households with four members, with the amount increasing further for households with more members. Other deductions include child support paid and out-of-pocket monthly medical expenses exceeding $35 for an elderly or disabled household member. In addition, some states allow a deduction for shelter costs for homeless applicants.
Suppose a family of four has a gross monthly income of $2,000, all of which is earned income. Multiply this amount by 20 percent and subtract the answer, $400, from the gross amount to get $1,600. Next, subtract the standard deduction for a family of four, which is $165 and reduces the amount to $1,435. Assuming the family has no other allowable deductions, use the $1,435 to calculate the SNAP benefits the family could receive.
Households receiving SNAP benefits are expected to use 30 percent of their resources to purchase food, with cost of living considered annually, according to the USDA's Food Nutrition Service. Based on this expectation, food stamp benefits are calculated by multiplying the net monthly income of the household by 30 percent. Convert the percentage to a decimal as in .3 and subtract the result from the maximum allotment amount. In the example using the family of four with $1,435 in net income, the calculation would be 1435 x .3 = 430.5. Next subtract the result, $430.50 from the maximum allotment for a family of four, $649, as in 649 - 430.5 to see what the monthly benefit will be for this particular household. In this example, the family is eligible to receive $218.50 in monthly SNAP benefits.