Can My Spouse File for Food Stamps Without Me?

Food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), provide a resource for low-income families to buy food until financial conditions improve. You can apply as an individual or on behalf of your household to enter the program. In some cases, your spouse can begin the SNAP program without you. Once approved, you will receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card that can be used to purchase food for the individuals listed on your application.

Household Definition

SNAP benfiets are allotted per household need. A household is defined as all individuals living together that buy and share meals together. However, if you are married, you are considered to be in the same household with your spouse even if you plan meals separately. If you and your spouse do not live in the same household, you must provide documentation of this fact to file alone to receive benefits.

Process

Your spouse can go through the interview process with a case worker and complete the application without you. Even though you are not physically present during the application process, your spouse will still have to provide information on your income and employment status so the case worker can determine your eligibility. A case worker may reach out to you directly if any of your information seems unclear or needs further verification that your spouse cannot deliver.

Income

If all members in your household are eligible for SNAP benefits, you will likely be approved for the program. Unless you qualify for certain exceptions, both you and your spouse must have a net income that is within 100 percent of the poverty level and a gross income that is within 130 percent of poverty level. Your net income is the money you receive after taxes have been deducted from your paycheck. If a sudden change in the income of you or your spouse occurs, you must report it to your case worker so that he or she can adjust your SNAP benefit.

Countable Resources

Both you and your spouse's countable resources are considered when either of you file for SNAP benefits. As of 2016, your shared resources cannot exceed $2,250 unless there is an elderly or disabled person living in your household. If an elderly or disabled person is present, your countable resources cannot be more than $3,250. Countable resources include money from checking or savings accounts and may include vehicles. However, rules for vehicles vary by state, and most states exclude all vehicles or at least one vehicle per household so that they don't count toward your resources total. Contact your state's human services agency for details.

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