How to Get Enough Food Stamps to Actually Eat

il_570xN.598696152_t9kz.jpgFood Stamps Survival Guide for People With Disabilities or Chronic Illness

Anyone can apply for food stamps any time by contacting their local SNAP office.

This sounds really great, but as you have may already figured out, it does not always work out really great.

Many people get turned down for food stamps, or get an amount of food stamps that is too small to feed their families.

Sometimes this happens because a family simply is not eligible for more food stamps. Other times, it happens because people do not know or understand all the food stamps regulations.

Lucky you… You are about to learn all the food stamps regulations, so this won’t happen to you.

What’s SNAP? What’s EBT? What’s Food Stamps?

They are all the same thing. This is just done to confuse you.

Are Your Food Stamps Low or High?

Before reading this page, check out this chart of Maximum Monthly Allotment for 48 States.

Or check out this chart for Hawaii, Alaska, Guam and Virgin Islands.

If your food stamps are already at the maximum amount, there is no point in learning more rules. Your food stamps are never going to go above the maximum allotment.

Extra Special Secret Confusing Rule: When you see the word “household” in this chart, that does not mean everyone you live with. What does household mean?

Household Rules

Are your food stamps low, or have they been denied, for one of these reasons?

๐ŸŽย  You live with other people

๐ŸŽย  Someone you live with has income or savings

If the person you live with is your spouse or your minor children, there is nothing you need to do. If you are under age 22 and the person you live with is parent(s) there is also nothing you need to do. However…

If the person you live with is anyone else (parent, friend, sister, brother, boyfriend, girlfriend, housemate), then you really want toย Learn the SNAP Household Rules

Senior Rules

Are your food stamps low, or have they been denied, for one of these reasons?

๐ŸŽย  When you applied, you were not a senior, but now you areย (60+)

You can submit a new application, or you can request that your current benefits be reassessed now that you are a senior.ย Learn the SNAP Rules for Elderly or Disabled

Disability Rules

Are your food stamps low, or have they been denied, for one of these reasons?

๐ŸŽย  When you applied, you were not disabled, but now you areย (any age)

๐ŸŽย  You are getting one of these forms of disability benefits

๐ŸŽย  You think the disability rules may not have been applied to your case

You can submit a new application, or you can request that your current benefits be reassessed to include the disability rules.ย ย Learn the SNAP Rules for Elderly or Disabled

Rent Rules

Are your food stamps low, or have they been denied for one of these reasons?

๐ŸŽย You are getting free rent

๐ŸŽย ย You are getting free utilities

๐ŸŽย  Your rent is really low

๐ŸŽย  Your parents or a family member are giving you a free place to stay

There are policies and regulations that can help:ย Learn the SNAP Rent Rules

Utilities Rules

Are your food stamps low, or have they been denied, for one of these reasons?

๐ŸŽย ย You are not paying utilities

๐ŸŽย  Your utilities are included in your rent

These regs can have a surprisingly big impact. In some cases, paying $10 per month in utilities can cause SNAP to raise by $100 per month:ย Learn the SNAP Utilities Rules

Work Rules

Are your food stamps discontinued or have they been denied because:

๐ŸŽย  You are unable to meet the work requirements.

You may find it helpful toย Learn the SNAP Policy for Exceptions to the Work Rules

Note: Some states don’t have work requirements, so you don’t have to worry about these rules.

Gift Rules

Are your food stamps low, or have they been denied, for one of these reasons?

๐ŸŽย ย Someone is paying your rent

๐ŸŽย  Someone is paying your utilities

๐ŸŽย  Someone is paying for your groceries

๐ŸŽย  Someone is giving you cash or money

There are policies and regulations that can help:ย Learn the SNAP Gift Rules

Homeowner Rules

Are your food stamps low, or have they been denied, for one of these reasons?

๐ŸŽย ย You own a home

There are policies and regulations that can help:ย Learn the SNAP Homeowner Rules

Medical & Health Expenses

Are any of these you:

๐ŸŽย  You are a senior (60+) and you have any kind of health costs

๐ŸŽย  You are disabled (any age) and you are receiving one of theย forms of disability benefitsย and you have any kind of health costs

Even if you think you have no health costs, or you think you have already given them all the information on your health costs, you should still read this page. You may discover some things that count as medical expenses that you were not thinking about.ย Learn SNAP Medical & Health Expenses Rules

Student Rules

Were your food stamps denied, for one of these reasons?

๐ŸŽย  You are a college student

๐ŸŽย  You were a college student

If you are still in school, check out the student rules.

If you are no longer in school, apply again! You may be eligible now.

Assets Rules

Were your food stamps denied or discontinued for one of these reasons?

๐ŸŽย  You have too much money

๐ŸŽย  You own too much stuff

It may help you toย Learn the SNAP Assets & Savings Rules

Bonuses & Discounts

๐ŸŽย  Special Diets: We have heard from a few readers who had their food stamps raised due to medical need for special diet (for example: gluten free). There was a form their doctor could sign to make the request. Try asking your food stamps caseworker if this is possible in your area. We are not sure if this is available in all states. If anyone else has had success trying this, please comment below and let us know what happened and what state you are in.

๐ŸŽย  Farmers Markets: Many farmers markets will give you extra free food if you use food stamps. For example, you pay $10 and it magically turns into $20!ย This bonus is available in many (but not all) states and farmer’s markets. Here’s where you can find a farmer’s market near you.

๐ŸŽย  And Repeat:ย To the best of our knowledge, there is no limit on eligibility for the farmer’s market bonus. If your area has more than one Farmer’s Market, or the Market is open on more than one day, you can go back several times each week and qualify each time. Check the rules in your area.

๐ŸŽย  Gardening: In some states, SNAP can be used to by seeds, fruit trees, and vegetable plants.ย 

๐ŸŽย  More Discounts:ย Did You Know Your EBT Card Could Do This?

Food Stamps Stories

“My monthly Food Stamps went from $35 to $192 when I turned in my out-of-pocket medical expenses. They wanted me to show what my projected recurring monthly expenses, but I said I couldn’t do that. They were different every month. I turned in receipts for the previous year and told them to figure it out. And they did.” – Camellia

Why Are My Food Stamps Still Low?

Now you know all the regulations! That doesn’t mean your caseworker knows all the regulations. If you think your food stamps were not processed correctly, here’s some ideas for next steps.

Advocacy Guide

If you have more questions or run into problems, check out this fantastic SNAP Advocacy Guide from Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus from Mass Legal Help. This guide is for Massachusetts, but many of the sections would apply to all states.

How Do They Decide How Much Food Stamps I Get?

The formula for food stamps is complicated. If you have a calculator, a lot of free time, and a desire to be simultaneously bored and confused, it is here: food stamps formula.

Some types of income will affect your food stamps, and some will not. The exact rules vary by state. Many states use rules similar to SSI. If you would like to get a general sense, look here:ย How You Can (and canโ€™t) Make Money While on SSI

Here’s a sample of a food stamps calculator you can play with if you wish (this one is from Illinois). Notice how someone can pay $10 more in medical expenses, and have a $90 increase in food stamps!

California Only

If you live in California and collect SSI, you cannot apply for food stamps. California adds a large supplement to SSI so it is often worth more than the food stamps anyway.

Exception #1: This is for SSI only. If you are on SSDI, you can get food stamps.

Exception #2: If you are on SSI, other members of your household can still apply. Your kids, spouse or other people you live with can still apply.

Home Delivery

Here’s where you can findย How to Get Groceries Delivered with SNAP. Please let us know if you learn of more services that accept food stamps. Comment below.

Fundraisers

Many people with disabilities and chronic illness fundraise to cover medical and living expenses. Unfortunately, this can affect your SNAP and other benefits. You will need to check the specific policies for SNAP in your state. There is some general information and advice on this page:ย How to Fundraise Without Losing Your Benefits

Other Options

๐ŸŽ Many areas have food banks that offer free groceries. National food bank directory.

๐ŸŽ Meals on Wheels and home meal programs offer free or low cost meals in many areas. Some programs are restricted to seniors, but others will serve anyone who is homebound or has difficulty leaving their home. Contact your local area agency on aging and they can hook you up.

๐ŸŽ Many areas have other food programs available at churches or nonprofits. Try dialing 2-1-1 on your phone to see what is available in your area.

๐ŸŽ Food stamps are not your only option. There are many other discounts and programs to help people with disabilities: How to Be Poor in America

 

Updated February 2018. Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working.ย 

14 thoughts on “How to Get Enough Food Stamps to Actually Eat”

    1. That’s interesting. I would think that they won’t need a letter if you are past retirement age, but if you are younger, I don’t know why they didn’t ask for it. Glad it worked out for you. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  1. Question: in the scenario where Jim Pays For Stuff versus paying the rent directly, if Jim pays his mom rent by check instead of paying for things around the house, does Jim’s mom have to report the checks as income on taxes or to Medicaid if the mom was on Medicaid? It’s just another kind of reimbursement – but I’d want to make sure in a similar scenario that I wasn’t messing up the other party financially just to get food stamps.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent question!! Yes, I think this is a very good point. I am not 100% certain so please double check.

      My understanding would be that if Jim’s mom is collecting rent from an adult child, she would report this as income.

      Depending on the situation, it might not affect the Medicaid. She would probably need to research what the Medicaid income limits are, depending on what state she is in and what type of Medicaid she receives.

      If she is on SSI, that could be lowered due to new income. SSDI would not be affected.

      I do not know a lot about taxes, if someone collects rental income, I believe there are some extra tax deductions they may be able to take. This could lower the taxes.

      Most assistance programs will consider the amount of income AFTER business expenses for a small business. If the mom is renting and has tax deductions related to the rental, it could be that Medicaid considers the income after deductions. This is something worth looking into.

      For utilities, this does not have to go through the mom. Jim could just pay his share directly to the utility company. As far as I know, this would not affect medicaid or taxes.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I live in california and as soon as my disability was approved my food stamps were completely cut, they said you cant be on both here.
    Do you have a list of states that dont have this policy?

    Like

    1. Hi Lulu,

      As far as I know, California adds a state supplement of $150 to SSI checks. It is the only state that does this.

      If you move to another state, you will be able to get food stamps back, but your SSI check will go down quite a bit.

      The maximum SSI in California is $890. Is that what you are currently receiving?

      Like

  3. Is there any provision in food stamps for people that have health issues that cause you instantly to have higher food expenses than other people? (Made even worse by living in a an expensive area).

    I am referring to people with severe allergies (like me) who cannot eat a lot of processed items because I am highly allergic to many ingredients, leaving me in a position that I need to buy, for example, things like fresh bakery bread for twice the cost of commercial bread, items that are low in sugar and items that are lacking certain things completely.

    I know other people who have similar issues because they must be sugar free completely, or no gluten or who have been told to eat things like grass fed beef or no hormones milk and on and on…

    So whatever the details, “special” diets get super expensive super fast and make it near impossible to eat just on food stamps in those circumstances.

    Or if not more food stamp money, is there any other place that assists people with these particular issues?

    Any ideas? Or anyone else reading this with info?

    Like

    1. Great question. I really cannot think of anything, except to try to find a farmer’s market that doubles some of your food stamps, since most farmer’s market food is healthier and unprocessed – some of them have things like local meats and breads.

      Like

  4. If you are homeless, are there ways to make sure you get enough food stamps to survive? My sister is homeless and on SSI and they only give her $12 in food stamps because her income to expenditures ratio but because she has to purchase food with income, she can’t save enough to get a place.

    Like

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