SNAP — Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

SNAP, the nation’s largest anti-hunger program, is a lifeline for many of the poorest Americans, especially single mothers. It helps to protect them from hardship and hunger.

Food is a basic necessity that impacts on many aspects of human survival. However, not everyone is lucky enough to have a constant and consistent supply of food.

Statistics show that one in eight American households with children struggles to put enough food on the table. 1 While average families may already find it hard to make ends meet, the challenge is much harder for single parents.

To mitigate the effects of poverty, the U.S. federal government initiated the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The aim is to provide affordable and nutritionally adequate diet to the low- to no income families; protecting them from hardship and hunger.

SNAP helps million low-income Americans put sufficient food on the table. 2 As the modern alternative to the Food Stamp Program, SNAP is a long way from its original structure.

Before, color-coded coupons were distributed to beneficiaries. Now, the assistance comes in the form of a debit card known as Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT), which is loaded with benefits once a month and can be used to purchase grocery items in any participating store within their locality.


SNAP-eligible Groceries

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Am I eligible for SNAP? #

Eligibility for SNAP is based on family income and whether or not it is composed of members with disabilities or seniors. Once the income requirement is met, household size and gross income (adjusted) are the next factors for consideration.

SNAP rules limit eligibility to households with gross income no more than 130% of poverty and net income at or below 100% of poverty.

For a family of three, this works out to $2,693 in gross monthly income and $2,072 in net monthly income. These limits are higher in Alaska and Hawaii. 3

You may be eligible SNAP benefits if you are:

  • Unemployed;
  • Working for low wages or working part-time;
  • Receiving welfare or other public assistance payments;
  • Elderly or disabled and are low-income; or
  • Homeless.

Use SNAP’s pre-screening tool to see if you are eligible for SNAP benefits. When you begin using the tool, you will answer some questions which the tool uses to determine your eligibility and estimate the amount of benefits you might get.

Some states may have their own pre-screening tools for SNAP eligibility. If you live in one of those states, the system will automatically direct you to the state’s pre-screening tool.

SNAP Eligibility by State #

The table below shows the updated income and asset limit for each state, including the District of Columbia. In many places, there is no limit on resources for people under the income limit.

Twenty-four states including District of Columbia have raised the income limit to 200% of the federal poverty level. Others have raised it past 130% but not to the maximum: Iowa raised it to 160%; Illinois and Nebraska to 165%.

STATE Income Asset
Alabama 130%
Alaska 130% $2,750 *
Arizona 185%
Arkansas 130% $2,750 *
California 200%
Colorado 200%
Connecticut 200%
Delaware 200%
District of Columbia 200%
Florida 200%
Georgia 130%
Hawaii 200%
Idaho 130% $5,000
Illinois 165%
Indiana 130% $5,000
Iowa 160%
Kansas 130% $2,750 *
Kentucky 200%
Louisiana 130%
Maine 185%
Maryland 200%
Massachusetts 200%
Michigan 200% $15,000
Minnesota 200%
Mississippi 130% $2,750 *
Missouri 130% $2,750 *
Montana 200%
Nebraska 165% $25,000
Nevada 200%
New Hampshire 200%
New Jersey 185%
New Mexico 165%
New York 200% $2,750 *
North Carolina 200%
North Dakota 200%
Ohio 130%
Oklahoma 130%
Oregon 200%
Pennsylvania 200%
Rhode Island 185%
South Carolina 130%
South Dakota 130% $2,750 *
Tennessee 130% $2,750 *
Texas 165% $5,000
Utah 130% $2,750 *
Vermont 185%
Virginia 200%
Washington 200%
West Virginia 200%
Wisconsin 200%
Wyoming 130% $2,750 *
  1. Income limit represents the gross income limit for households with no elderly or disabled members. Across all states, the net income limit is set at 100% of the federal poverty level.
  2. * The asset limit for households where at least one person is age 60 or older, or is disabled, is $4,250.

Emergency Allotment of SNAP Benefits #

EA SNAP benefits are a monthly additional food assistance benefit for SNAP households during the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary boost to SNAP benefits, however, has ended nationwide after the February 2023 issuance.

SNAP Benefits 2023 #

The maximum amount of SNAP benefits is based on the Thrifty Food Plan, an estimate by the U.S. Department of Agriculture of how much it costs to buy “healthy food” for a family of two adults and two children.

The maximum SNAP benefit is the same for all counties in the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C, and is adjusted higher for Alaska and Hawai’i.

Household Size Alaska Hawai’i 48 States
1 $351 $538 $281
2 $644 $987 $516
3 $923 $1,413 $740
4 $1,172 $1,794 $939
5 $1,391 $2,131 $1,116
6 $1,670 $2,557 $1,339
7 $1,846 $2,826 $1,480
8 $2,109 $3,230 $1,691

SNAP benefits in Alaska, and Hawai’i are higher than in the other 48 states and Washington, D.C. because income eligibility standards, maximum benefits, and deduction amounts are different in those states.

The actual SNAP benefit amounts are based on a household's net income with a general rule that an increase of $100 in net income results in a reduction of $30 in benefits.

How much could I receive in SNAP benefits? #

The actual amount of SNAP benefit you will get is the maximum allotment for your household size (see table above), minus 30% of your household’s net monthly income.

Because SNAP households are expected to spend about 30% of their own resources on food, your SNAP allotment is calculated by multiplying your household’s net monthly income by 0.3 and subtracting the result from the maximum monthly allotment for your household size.

For example, a household of three with a net monthly income of $1,000 would get a SNAP allotment of about $440.

Maximum allotment for household size of 3

Subtract 30% of net monthly income (0.3 x 1,000)

Household SNAP benefit

Can I get SNAP if I'm unemployed? #

As a condition of eligibility, anyone applying for SNAP benefits are required by law to render several hours of work-related services to the SNAP Employment and Training Program. The activities vary according to the needs of applicants.

Such activities include, but not limited to,

  • Enrolment in a secondary education program
  • Search for employment
  • Community Service
  • On-the-job Training
  • Actual employment

All of these only serve to provide temporary support until applicants are capable of independently providing for their families.

The law also requires all able-bodied adults recipients ages 18—50 without dependents (ABAWDs) to meet special work requirements. Otherwise, receipt of benefits is limited to no more than 3 months during a 36-month period.

The new legislation, however, will raise the ages of participants who need to provide proof of work for SNAP to 18—54. Age requirements will be expanded up to age 52 on Oct. 1, 2023 then up to age 54 on Oct. 1, 2024.

How do I apply for SNAP? #

Each state designs its own SNAP application process. In most states, you must fill out an application and return it to a local SNAP office, either in person, by mail, or by fax. 4

After your application is filed, the SNAP office will review your information, conduct an interview, and determine your eligibility for SNAP. If you’re signed up for the program, and you’ll receive an EBT card in the mail with your SNAP benefits for the month.

If you’re application is denied, you have the right to ask why. You can appeal the decision if you don’t agree or feel an error was made and request for a “fair hearing” with a state employee at the SNAP office.


  1. USDA. Food Security Status of U.S. Households.
  2. USDA. Participation and Costs, 1969-2019.
  3. USDA, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Income Eligibility Standards
  4. SNAP Application and Local Office Locators.
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