(AscendHealthy.com) – If you’re on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, you want to make sure you can get the absolute maximum you’re entitled to receive. However, many don’t know the specific tactics for increasing the amount of benefits. It’s not “cheating” to get the most you can out of SNAP — but it’s appropriately adding all the deductions you can find.
The SNAP medical expense deduction is one frequently overlooked deduction that can help most SNAP recipients.
The SNAP Medical Expense Deduction: How Does It Work?
When the administrators review your SNAP application, they consider many factors in your benefits, including income, household size, and certain expenses. You’ve probably figured this out if you’ve filled out the application already. Those necessary expenses become deductions: they get taken out of the income before the benefits are calculated. And, of course, lower income results in more benefits.
Some medical expenses count as this necessary deduction. Unfortunately, many people don’t know about this and neglect to count their medical in the deductions, which results in those applicants receiving a lower SNAP allocation than they should. Only 5 percent of SNAP households actually claim the medical expense deduction, but it’s likely that many more could.
Can Every SNAP Applicant Deduct Their Medical Expenses?
Not every SNAP recipient can deduct their medical expenses. If you’re not sure whether you can do this, it’s time to consider your eligibility. You should be 60 years of age or older, or you should receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or disability benefits. Alternatively, you could be a recipient of an annuity per the Railroad Retirement Act and eligible for Medicare.
Other eligible applicants include veterans who are homebound on a permanent status, or veterans who get a total and permanent disability award or aid. Veterans who receive aid and attendance payments may also be eligible, and so are their surviving children and spouses if the veteran was permanently disabled.
In short, only elderly or disabled applicants can claim the medical expense deduction. If one person qualifies and others in the household don’t, their expenses can’t be deducted. Lastly, your medical expenses should be at least $35 per month.
If You’re Eligible, What Medical Expenses Can You Deduct?
If you qualify to use the medical expense deduction on your SNAP application, you can deduct the following expenses:
- Medicare premiums
- Nursing home care
- Home nursing care
- Drugs that have been prescribed
- Fees paid for dentist or doctor visits
- Outpatient or inpatient hospital treatments
- Health insurance premiums
- Proesthetics, dentures, hearing aids, and eyeglasses
- Service animal costs such as dog food, vet bills, and specific dog training. Unfortunately, emotional support animal (ESA) expenses cannot be deducted even if you qualify for one. These expenses are for service animals only.
- Medical transportation costs
- Hiring the extra help you need to take care of your home
What can’t you claim? Food and marijuana, even if medical marijuana has been prescribed by your doctor. Additionally, these deductions vary state by state, so check in to understand the rules of your individual state.
How Can You Claim the Medical Expense Deduction?
If you qualify, you can claim your monthly expenses as ongoing expenses. If the amount differs, or it’s a one-time expense, you simply deduct it in the month you’ve spent money on it — alternatively, these deductions can apply over your remaining recertification period.
If you’re not sure which method is better, ask your caseworker for advice.
If your deduction is denied, you get to request a hearing, and should do so within 15 days of your denial. Appealing may or may not be worth it depending on the circumstances, and if you do appeal, you should retain a lawyer.
When filling out your application or recertification for SNAP, don’t forget your medical expenses if you qualify. You could leave money on the table if you don’t include them.
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