(DailyVibe.com) – The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, is one of the most popular federal assistance programs in the US. SNAP helps people who are facing financial difficulties have better access to nutritious food. It is no wonder, with the USDA reporting in 2020 that 10.5% of American households struggle with food insecurity. While SNAP isn’t an end-all-be-all answer to hunger, it was created to help all low income citizens live a better, healthier life.
If you are struggling, or know someone who is, you may be curious as to who qualifies for SNAP or just want to know more about this important program.
SNAP is a program where benefit money is loaded onto a debit card to help low income families buy approved food items. For a person to get benefits, the entire family that eats and prepares food together must meet income guidelines and shop at stores that accept the SNAP benefits card. This allows families to supplement the food they can afford with additional nutritious options that they need to stay healthy.
When it comes to income, SNAP looks at multiple things. You’d have to report regular job or self employment income, disability income, unemployment, other welfare benefits, child support support, or any other money coming into the household for everyone in the family. While the poverty line may be set federally or by the state, your household net income will usually have to be at or below the poverty line.
The income guidelines for people with disabilities or over the age of 60 may be a little less stringent.
The qualifying income limits are also adjusted by family size. So, your income can be higher with a family of five than a family of three, for example, and still potentially qualify for benefits. Also, there is a twenty percent standard deduction if you’re a taxpayer, and there may also be additional deductions by state. For some families, certain expenses, such as childcare or medical bills may also be allowed income deductions.
SNAP Guidelines for Assets
Your assets are things you own that have a monetary value. These are things that you could potentially sell during a rough financial time in order to better provide for your family. Most families must be able to show that they don’t have assets that exceed $2500 in value in order to get SNAP. Some families with senior or disabled members will have a higher threshold.
This doesn’t mean you would need to give up your home or the vehicle that you use to get to work. Quite the contrary, as SNAP is designed to get you through a rough time and back onto your feet, not to make your life more difficult. The state will deduct essentials for living from your assets before making a determination.
The SNAP Work Requirement
Many people both work and receive SNAP benefits at the same time, depending on their family size and income. Able-bodied adults have to have a job, be in an approved school or a training program, or be actively seeking employment. Once on SNAP, recipients cannot quit their job without another lined up or reduce their own hours.
Of course, those who are pregnant, disabled, or elderly do not have these guidelines applied to them.
Who Can Be Disqualified from SNAP?
There are some people who simply will not qualify for this federal program, even if they meet the financial guidelines. If you aren’t a US citizen, you must be here under a legal immigrant status and either have dependents, be disabled, or have lived in the US for at least 5 years. If you’re out of work due to being on strike, you will not be approved for benefits. Some students and job trainees may qualify, but others may not.
If you’ve been found to have abused the system in the past, you will no longer be eligible for SNAP.
There are also limits for single adults who aren’t disabled or elderly. While you may be approved, you may only be able to get SNAP benefits for three months and then not be eligible again for three years.
When You’re Ready To Apply
Many states now have the ability to apply online or through the mail, but most cities and counties also have local assistance offices to help you with your application. There’s truly no shame in asking for help when you need it. After all, everyone needs a little help sometimes. SNAP helps people just like you going through a rough time to be happier and healthier every day.
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