The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the name of the food stamp program. The program helps low-income individuals and families purchase groceries to prepare at home. After approval, the Alabama Department of Human Resources issues an electronic benefits card, or EBT, to the recipient, who can then use the card like a debit card to make purchases at participating grocers. Because the purpose of the program is to assist those with lower incomes, recipients' income cannot exceed the limit for the family size.
Whose Income Counts
The income for all members of the household counts toward determining eligibility. For households with a disabled individual or one over the age of 60, the household does not have to meet the gross income limit, but must meet the net income limit. For purposes of determining income eligibility, wages, commissions, child support, unemployment, veterans' benefits, workers' comp and Social Security disability, retirement and supplemental benefits count.
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Gross Income Limitations
Households without an elderly or disabled member must first have income at or below the limits for gross income. For one person, the gross income limit is $1,174 per month, as of April 2011. Monthly gross income for a two-person household cannot exceed $1,579. For a household of three, the gross income cannot exceed $1,984 per month; a four-person household cannot have more than $2,389 in monthly gross income. A five-person household can have a gross monthly income of as much as $2,794. The gross income limit for a family of six is $3,200 monthly and $3,605 for a family of seven. If there are eight people in the household, the gross income limit is $4,010 per month. For households with nine or more people, add $406 per person to the eight-person limit.
Deductions to Gross Income
The Alabama Department of Human Resources makes certain deductions from gross income to arrive at the household's net income. The standard deduction ranges from a minimum of $142 for households with one to three members to a maximum of $205 for households with six or more people. The earned income deduction is for those who derive income from a job and is 20 percent of the monthly gross earned income. If the income is from self-employment, that income is subject to a 40 percent deduction as a cost-of-business deduction. Households with disabled or elderly members may receive a deduction for out-of-pocket medical expenses if such expenses exceed $35 monthly. Childcare expenses and court-ordered child-support payments may be deductible as well. The costs of maintaining a residence, such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, homeowner's insurance and property taxes, may also be allowable deductions.
Net Income Limits
Applicable deductions are taken from the household's gross income to arrive at its net income. The monthly net income for one person cannot be greater than $903. For two people, the net income limit is $1,215 per month, and for three, the monthly net income limit is $1,526. A four-person household cannot have a monthly net income greater than $1,838. The limit for a family of five is $2,150 and $2,461 for a family of six. For a household with seven people, the monthly net income limit is $2,773, and the limit is $3,085 for eight people. Households with more than eight people should add $312 per additional person to the eight-person limit.