(AscendHealthy.com) – If you’re facing hunger and food insecurity, the prospect of filling out complicated forms to get government assistance might seem overwhelming. However, with a bit of research about Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) benefits, you can determine whether it’s worth your time to apply, or whether you aren’t likely to qualify and should not waste your time.
Food insecurity is quite a concern in the United States. Per the UDA, 10.5 percent of American households had a difficult time getting enough food to live a healthy and active lifestyle in the year 2020. While solving hunger is a complex issue, low-income American households do have viable options to obtain food assistance.
The federal government’s most popular hunger relief program, SNAP, offers nutrition benefits to low-income qualifying families.
Before you dive into the application process, it’s good to get an idea of whether or not you might qualify for SNAP benefits. Let’s take a look.
What Is SNAP, Exactly?
You’ve probably heard of food stamps before. SNAP is exactly that with a new name. It provides households with funding to purchase groceries. Those who are eligible get benefits on an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card, which functions just like a debit card. When they use the card at pre-approved locations, they can purchase certain food items with it.
SNAP is limited to low-income households who meet minimum asset thresholds. Those who eat and make meals together and live in the home are considered part of the household.
SNAP Income Guidelines Explained
How does SNAP define income? It’s any money received or earned by a family member via unemployment benefits, employment, other government assistance programs, disability programs, or via child support. For a household to qualify, they must prove a monthly gross income at 130 percent of the poverty line or below.
For households including a person over 60 years of age, or with a person with disabilities, monthly income requirements aren’t necessary, but they still need to meet net income requirements.
Factors include the number of people in the family, and income guidelines are different in two states: Hawaii and Alaska, which have a somewhat higher threshold.
Additionally, SNAP sometimes allows families to deduct allowable expenses like medical bills and childcare costs from estimated amounts of income.
SNAP Asset Guidelines Explained
Assets are any items that a household could potentially sell to get cash for food. However, essential items like certain personal property and a family’s primary residence are deducted. The state also sets a value limit for assets that are approved.
Asset limits are as follows: households must have under $2,500 in total assets when they apply and during their participation period. For households with a family member 60 years of age or older, the asset threshold is $3,750.
The SNAP Work Requirement
There is a work requirement for SNAP. Every adult in the household must be looking for work, employed, or training for a job. They cannot quit a job or reduce hours voluntarily while they are getting SNAP benefits. Pregnant people, the elderly, and those who can’t work due to health reasons are exempt from this requirement.
SNAP Automatic Ineligibility
Even if you meet SNAP asset and income rules, you might not qualify. If you fall into the following categories, that could mean you: certain students, non-citizens, and strikers. Legal immigrants may be eligible for the program but they have to prove disability, dependents, or at least five years of legal residency in the United States.
There are also limitations: if you’re an adult and you don’t have children under 18, your benefits will be limited to three months every three years. Plus, any beneficiary who has been found to defraud the system is then banned from receiving benefits for life.
If it sounds like you might be eligible for SNAP after reading through the qualifications and disqualifying events, you should definitely apply! Everyone deserves basic necessities such as food.
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