(AscendHealthy.com) – Are you on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as food stamps? It’s a federal program for food assistance targeting low-income families and individual beneficiaries. SNAP provides funds to recipients via Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, which function like debit cards, and allow them to purchase food at certain locations.
However, SNAP benefit amounts depend on factors like net income earned, and houses without any net income get the most benefits.
If you’re looking to boost your SNAP benefits and get more money for food, you might feel like your net income gets in your way. Let’s take a look at some strategies for increasing your benefits.
SNAP Benefits: How to Calculate Them
Before you can look for ways to increase your SNAP benefits, you have to know where you are and what benefits you could receive. To do this, calculate your net income: that’s the amount you get when you subtract taxes and deductions from your gross income.
To get your amount in SNAP benefits, subtract 30 percent of net income from your family’s maximum allotment, which depends on your family size.
What deductions can you subtract from your gross income? It’s important to know, as they greatly affect the net income you end up reporting to receive SNAP benefits.
Some deductions are standard, like toothpaste and toilet paper, which the government automatically awards. However, earnings, child support, excess shelter cost, homeless shelter costs, and medical expenses may also be deducted.
Earnings deductions come out of your daily wages or salary and are 20 percent of your earnings and expenses related to work. If you’re a rideshare driver, for example, fuel would count as that expense. This lowers your net income and helps you get more SNAP benefits.
Medical expense deductions are for people of 60 years of age or older, or for disabled people. They may be able to get coverage for medication, nursing home care, health insurance, medical transportation costs, dental, and hospital expenses. To get this, your medical expenses must be at least $35 per month.
Child support deductions reflect child support payments. These are payments a non-custodial parent makes to support their child’s basic living expenses. If you or another member of your household makes child support payments, you might be able to use this deduction to increase your SNAP benefit award amount.
Excess shelter deductions reflect rent, utilities, property taxes, and mortgage payment. When you make your SNAP application, you can present them as additional expenses and receive a benefit if your shelter expenses cost more than half your net income.
Homeless shelter deductions only exist in certain states, like Ohio, Wyoming, and Kansas. With this deduction, you get a fixed $143 deduction if you are living in a homeless shelter.
Report Your Income Reductions
Do you have a reduction in your income? If you’ve lost a job, have experienced a salary cut, or have had reduced work hours for any reason, you should report your reduction. This could result in an increase in SNAP benefits. The SNAP office will recalculate your benefit for you after you report it.
Clarify Your Household Information
Your household information may change, or you may need to clarify it. People who share food and live together, like spouses and children, are considered a household. Don’t forget your roommates, disability assistants, etc. to ensure you get fair SNAP benefits.
If you forget to provide or update your household information, or any other information on the SNAP application, make sure you contact the office right away to update. The office will explain if and when any updates will take effect.
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