How to SNAP: Assets & Savings Rules

Update: Many states have eliminated there asset limits. If you are in one of the states with no asset limit, you don’t have to worry about this page.

If you were turned down for food stamps because you had too many assets, and you now have less assets, you can apply again any time.

You are allowed to receive food stamps if your household is below the asset limit. In many states this is $2,250. (Or $3,250 if at least one person is disabled or a senior).

But wait! Your household does not mean the people you live with. What does “household” mean?

What Counts

All money in the bank counts. Retirement plans sometimes count. A house does not count.

In some states no cars count, in some states one car does not count, in some states, one car does not count if it is worth less than $5,000.

How Much Food Stamps Does John Get? 

This example is going to look rather crazy, but we don’t make the rules. This is how it works:

🍎 Jack has money – Jack has $4,000 in the bank. He gets $0 in food stamps.

🍎 Jack has a house – Jack owns a $250,000 house. He spent all his savings and paid off the mortgage. Jack gets $100 in food stamps.

Safe Ways to Spend Money

You are allowed to spend money, or put money in certain types of trusts or accounts, and then apply for food stamps. You are not allowed to give money away.

The specific rules for savings and assets may vary by state. Many states use rules that are similar to the SSI rules. If you would like to get a general sense of how these type of programs work, check out: How Will Savings and Resources Affect My SSI Check?

Learn More

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.

3 thoughts on “How to SNAP: Assets & Savings Rules”

  1. California stopped using asset limits for most people.
    The official current rules are at
    http://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/CDSS-Programs/CalFresh/Eligibility-and-Issuance-Requirements

    Many other states have also stopped, see
    scorecard.prosperitynow.org/2016/measure/asset-limits-in-public-benefit-programs

    An explanation of why is at
    https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billCompareClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB1809
    “Other states, realizing that very few families had assets over the limit, have
    removed the limit with the goal of streamlining the eligibility process and
    cutting down on administrative costs. In Virginia, this decision has saved the
    state an estimated $400,000 annually, and to date, the State of Virginia has
    reported no negative impacts. A study published in 2015 has estimated that if
    California were to repeal the CalWORKs asset limit, there would be minimal to no
    increase in caseloads and an annual $6.4 million in administrative savings
    allowing county case workers to spend less time reviewing the value of vehicles
    and savings and more time helping people get the resources they need to get back
    to work. Asset limits were intended to ensure that public assistance programs
    provide benefits only to those with too few resources to support themselves. But
    years of research and practitioner experience has proven that personal savings
    and assets are precisely the kinds of resources that allow people to move off
    public benefits programs. Without being able to maintain or build up a small
    savings cushion, these families are highly vulnerable to falling into debt in
    the event of an emergency or other unexpected expense. It is the intent of the
    Legislature to repeal the asset test for the CalWORKs program, thereby aligning
    program rules with Medi-Cal [Medicaid] and CalFresh [SNAP], making the program
    more efficient, and increasing the capacity of poor families to exit poverty.”

    This change is not necessarily all beneficial. It used to be you had trouble if
    you had too many assets; now you may have trouble if you don’t have enough, you
    may be required to submit bank statements, and even then it may not help –
    they’ve become so fixated only on income that if you get into a situation where
    income is less than expenses they may presume you’re hiding something and treat
    you as a criminal, burning up your time and energy when you can least afford it
    and jeopardizing assistance when you most need it, the net effect undermining
    your ability to get out of the predicament.

    Like

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