BEYOND THE NUMBERS
A Quick Guide to SNAP Eligibility and Benefits
Today’s start of fiscal year 2015 brings small adjustments to SNAP (formerly food stamps) eligibility and benefits. We’ve updated our quick guide that provides an overview of SNAP eligibility and benefit calculation rules. To be eligible for SNAP, a household must meet three tests related to gross monthly income, net income, and assets. Our guide defines “income” and “assets” and clarifies who isn’t eligible regardless of income or assets — such as individuals who are on strike, all undocumented immigrants, and certain legal immigrants. It also provides guidelines for calculating a household’s monthly SNAP benefits. Families with no net income receive the maximum benefit (see table), which equals the cost of the Department of Agriculture’s Thrifty Food Plan (a diet plan intended to provide adequate nutrition at a minimal cost). For all other households, the monthly SNAP benefit equals the maximum benefit for that household size minus the household’s expected contribution. The guide explains how deductions — including shelter expenses, dependent care, child support, and medical expenses — play an important role in determining SNAP benefits. It also walks through a calculation of benefits for a sample family of three with one full-time, minimum-wage worker and two children, taking into account the family’s income, deductions, and expected contribution toward food. Click here to read the full paper.