The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is a government entitlement program that provides grocery vouchers for low-income individuals and families. Often called "food stamps," these benefits are placed on a special debit card provided to eligible recipients. To receive benefits, a person must meet criteria for eligibility. Although part of a federal program, food stamps are administered by state agencies, each of which has its own criteria for eligibility. However, most states' criteria are similar.
To be eligible to receive food stamps, a person must, in most states, make under the monthly income equivalent to the federal poverty level. The federal poverty level changes often to keep it in line with inflation and other economic metrics. In most states, a person's gross monthly income—his income before taxes are taken out—must be under 200 percent of this level, and his net income must be under 100 percent of this level.
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A person can receive food stamps not just for himself, but on behalf of other people in his household who depend on him for income as well. The more people in a household who are supported by a person's food stamps, the more benefits that can be received. The exact benefit level for different-sized households depends on formula unique to each state. In addition, households with disabled or elderly people generally receive more food stamps.
Size of Benefits
There is no maximum amount of benefits that a household can receive. The more people in a household, the more vouchers the household is eligible to receive. However, the amount of benefits is capped depending on the number of people in each household. The exact amount of food stamps that a household is entitled to varies by state. This number also changes constantly, as states alter their program policies in accordance with new laws and changes to the rate of inflation.
In most states, recipients of food stamps are allowed to own only a certain amount of fungible assets. In most states, the limit is $2,000 per household, with the elderly and disabled allowed to have $3,000. Most assets that are used every day, such as a residence, a car and most household items, are not considered assets. Financial securities and cash, however, are considers assets. Some states, such as New York, have no such asset requirement.