Food Assistance

A Quick Guide to SNAP Eligibility and Benefits

Most families and individuals who meet the program’s income guidelines are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP — formerly the Food Stamp Program). The size of a family’s SNAP benefit is based on its income and certain expenses. This paper provides a short summary of SNAP eligibility and benefit calculation rules.

 

SNAP Costs Falling, Expected to Fall Further

SNAP spending, which doubled as a share of the economy in the wake of the Great Recession, has begun to decline, as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and other experts expected.

Related:

 

SNAP's Excess Medical Expense Deduction: Targeting Food Assistance To Low-Income Seniors And Individuals With Disabilities

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides over 8 million struggling elderly individuals and individuals with disabilities (as well as millions of other low-income households) with benefits that they can use to purchase food. Many low-income households with elderly and disabled members pay high out-of-pocket expenses for health care that create additional barriers to affording an adequate diet. SNAP allows households to deduct unreimbursed medical expenses over $35 per month from their income in calculating their net income for SNAP purposes to more realistically reflect the income they have available to purchase food. This, in turn, could potentially qualify them for higher SNAP benefits.

While the medical expense deduction plays an important role in ensuring that households with high medical costs receive adequate benefits, it is underutilized.

 

 

Basics

SNAP, the nation’s most important anti-hunger program, helps roughly 35 million low-income Americans to afford a nutritionally adequate diet.  WIC — short for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children — provides nutritious foods, information on healthy eating, and health care referrals to about 8 million low-income pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children under five.  The School Lunch and School Breakfast programs provide free and reduced-price meals that meet federal nutritional standards to over 22 million school children from low-income families.

Policy Basics:
- Introduction to SNAP

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The Center designs and promotes polices to make the Food Stamp Program more adequate to help recipients afford an adequate diet, more accessible to eligible families and individuals, and easier for states to administer.  We also help states design their own food stamp programs for persons ineligible for the federal program. Our work on the WIC program includes ensuring that sufficient federal funds are provided to serve all eligible applicants and on helping states contain WIC costs. Our work on child nutrition programs focuses on helping states and school districts implement recent changes in how they determine a child's eligibility for free or reduced-priced school meals.

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