Published on: June 5, 2020
Can I get food stamps if I'm on disability?
This is a question that many individuals receiving either Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) may have. So, is it possible to receive both SSDI/SSI and food stamps?
Before that can be answered, there are certain eligibility requirements that you have to meet in general before you can apply for nutrition assistance under SNAP.
What is SNAP? How Can it Help?
SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is the program formerly known as food stamps. The government assistance program offers a monthly supplement for purchasing nutritious food. It’s the United State’s most significant anti-hunger program, helping over 38 million people in 2019 alone. Beneficiaries are no longer given paper stamps, but receive SNAP benefits through an EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card, which acts like a type of debit card.
The SNAP benefits EBT card can be used to purchase food not only at grocery stores, but also convenience stores, and some co-op food programs and farmer’s markets. Many eligible families struggle with being able to purchase healthy food, so SNAP acts as a supplement to their food budget so low-income families can receive sufficient nutrition.
It’s important to note that SNAP is not a welfare assistance program (like the TAFDC), but a nutrition program with the goal of providing eligible families with healthy food. Food that is considered “ineligible” to be bought with the EBT card includes tobacco, alcoholic beverages, and some hot food products.
Who Qualifies to Receive Food Stamps?
Since SNAP is a federal entitlement program, anyone who is eligible will receive benefits. To receive SNAP benefits, you must meet certain requirements, including resource and income limits:
Gross Monthly Income
Your household income before any of SNAP’s deductions are applied must be at or below 130 percent of the poverty line. For a four-person family, the poverty line used to determine SNAP benefits in the 2020 fiscal year is $2,146 a month. So, 130 percent of the poverty line for a family of four is $2,790 a month, which is about $33,480 a year. The smaller the family size is, the lower the poverty line. The opposite is true for larger families; the more people in a family, the higher the poverty line.
Your net income, or your household income after SNAP deductions are applied, must be at or below the poverty line.
SNAP calculates income from all sources, including earned income (pre-payroll taxes) and unearned income such as Social Security, child support, unemployment insurance, and cash assistance.
Assets must fall below certain limits for you to be eligible for SNAP. If there are no elderly or disabled members in your household, your assets must be under $2,250 or less. Households with such a member can hold assets of up to $3,500 or less.
Resources that you can use to purchase food, such as money in a bank account, are considered assets. Inaccessible resources, such as retirement savings, personal property, and most automobiles do not count as assets.
How can SSI or Disability Benefits Affect Eligibility?
SNAP can be a valuable asset for those receiving disability benefits who struggle to put healthy food on the table. Over 11 million SNAP participants, which is equivalent to over 25% of beneficiaries, either had a disability or were receiving both Social Security and SNAP benefits additionally in 2015.
If you are elderly or are receiving SSI or disability benefits, there are special SNAP eligibility requirements. Though the above mentioned requirements still apply for those interested in receiving both SSI and food stamps, the limits are adjusted. For families or individuals receiving Social Security disability benefits, the asset limit is extended to up to $3,500 or less as opposed to the general $2,250 limit.
In some parts of the country, the SSI and food stamps application are one and the same if the applicant lives alone.
How do I Apply for the SNAP Program?
If you wish to receive SNAP benefits, you must apply in the state where you currently live. Whether you are already receiving SSI or applying for Social Security benefits, you can receive SNAP information and an application form at your local Social Security office.
Each state has a different SNAP application form and process. You can also apply by contacting your state agency, either by visiting the SNAP office, through the website, or through your state’s toll-free SNAP Information hotline. Some state agencies have online SNAP applications that can be completed from their website.
What Happens if My Application Isn't Approved?
If you applied for SNAP, you will generally receive a message from either the local SNAP office or state agency notifying you whether or not you are eligible for benefits within 30 days.
However, if you are denied eligibility for SNAP, you may request a hearing within 90 days of the decision. You can request for a fair hearing in person, in writing, or over the phone through your local SNAP office. With a hearing, you can have your application re-examined by an objective official trained in reviewing claims.
Do you have more questions about eligibility for SSI and food stamps? Or, are you having trouble navigating the complexities of applying for supplemental income and nutrition assistance programs, like SNAP? Reach out to the team at Disability Experts of Florida. We’re here to help you.