In some states, utilities will have a big impact on your food stamps. In some cases, Food Stamps will apply a standard utility allowance. It may be much higher than what you actually pay in utilities.
If you pay for rent and utilities separately, you will be eligible for this benefit. If your utilities are included in your rent, you will not be eligible for this.
In some states, the standard utilities deductions are crazy high! For example, in Vermont it is $787 per month!
🍎 Jim Lives in Vermont – Jim lives in Vermont in a tiny, well-insulated studio apartment. His rent is $600 per month, including utilities. His food stamps are $50 per month.
🍎 Jim Lives in Vermont – Jim lives in Vermont in a tiny, well-insulated studio apartment. His rent is $300 and his utilities are $300 per month. This is what he writes on his application. But when the caseworker process his case, the caseworker enters the standard utilities allowance. She writes that his rent is $300 and his utilities are counted at $787! His food stamps are $190 per month.
Utility Deductions in Your State
You do not need to know the utility deductions in your state. You just write your actual utility cost, and then the caseworker will make the adjustment.
However, if you are curious and want to learn more here is a chart of Standard Utility Deductions.
Depending on your state you may notice:
No standard utility deduction: In this case, they will just use the actual cost of your utilities.
Standard Utility Deduction including Heating and Cooling – This includes all utilities, including heating and cooling.
Limited utility deduction – For people who do not pay heating and cooling, but do pay at least two other utilities: electric (not heating/cooling), telephone, water, sewage, and trash collection.
Telephone – For people not eligible for either of the above, but do pay phone.
You can also get a deduction for “telephone” but not for internet. Because these rules were written in the dark ages.
If you have a change in your income, savings, rent, utilities, medical expenses, or household, always notify your food stamps caseworker.
If you would like to request that your food stamps be reassessed based on changes, you can request this at any time.
Some of our readers report that they found it easier to report changes and communicate with their caseworker by email. This has the added advantage of creating a written record of changes you report. You can ask your caseworker if she has an email where you can reach her.
If you are asked to go to an in-person meeting and you cannot attend due to your disability, you can request an accommodation to do the meeting by phone or mail.
If you think your food stamps were not processed correctly, here’s some ideas for next steps.
There are a bunch more food stamps rules and regs it may really help you to know: How to Get Enough Food Stamps to Actually Eat
Updated March 2018. Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working.