Income Guidelines for Food Stamps in Maine

The Maine food stamp program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), offers funds to individuals and families who need help paying for groceries. As of 2010, most residents may not have more than $2,000 in cash savings in order to qualify for the program, and they must meet both net and gross monthly income tests in order to verify their financial situation. In order to determine eligibility, residents can visit or call their local Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) office before submitting an application.

Limits

As of January 2011, a single applicant to the Maine food stamp program may not earn more than $1,174 in gross monthly income and $903 in net monthly income. The elderly and disabled only have to meet net income tests. Each additional member of the household adds an additional $406 to gross monthly earnings and $312 to net monthly earnings limits. A family of four may not earn a gross monthly income greater than $2,389 to qualify for the program.

Earnings

The state of Maine counts all wages and salaries from employment, including tips and commissions, when calculating applicant eligibility for the food stamp program. Self-employed persons who work as independent contractors, farmers or business owners must report their earned income to the Maine DSSH to determine eligibility. Investors must report all monies held in stocks, bonds and other financial instruments to qualify for the Maine food stamp program.

Unearned Income

According to the Maine DHHS Office of Integrated Access and Support (OIAS) section FS-555-3, payments from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) count as income when determining food stamp eligibility. In addition, pensions, annuities, retirement, disability and Social Security payments count towards Maine food stamp income limits.

Deductions

Per federal regulations, Maine residents may take a standard deduction of $142 for households of up to three people and $153 for families of four or more in order to meet the net income test. In addition, residents receive an earned income deduction of 20 percent. Elderly or disabled persons may deduct out-of-pocket health care expenses in excess of $35 per month. United States Department of Agriculture guidelines allow residents to deduct shelter expenses that exceed 50 percent of a household's income and child support payments.

Exclusions

The Maine DHHS OIAS does not count the federal earned income tax credit or benefits obtained from the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program as income per section FS-555-4. Income received from the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which provides payments for on-the-job training, does not disqualify a resident from obtaining food stamps. When calculating household income, the Maine DHHS does not consider cash donations of less than $300 per quarter and income earned by children 17 years or younger.

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