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Income and Asset Limits for the Food Assistance Program (FAP, or Food Stamps)

Contents

    The Food Assistance Program (FAP, also known as Food Stamps), helps eligible families buy food. In order to be eligible for FAP, you must meet certain requirements. Two important requirements are the income and asset limits.

    The Income Limit

    Income is money you receive. Most earned and unearned income is counted to determine eligibility. Income from every person in your household who buys and prepares food together is counted.

    Here are some examples of income that is counted:

    • Wages

    • Self-employment earnings

    • Rental income

    • Social Security benefits

    • Veterans benefits

    • Child support

    Not all income is counted. Here are some examples of income that is not counted:

    • Educational income, including scholarships, grants, loans, work-study, assistantships, and fellowships

    • The $50.00 “Child Support Pass-Through”–If you or someone in your household gets cash assistance (FIP), the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) usually returns up to $50.00 per month of the child support that it collects

    Expenses

    Some household expenses are deducted from income when determining how much FAP you will get. Examples are:

    • Shelter costs (rent, mortgage, and utilities)

    • Child support payments

    • Dependent care expenses, like daycare

    • Certain medical expenses for household members who are disabled or over 60 years old

    Whether your household is eligible for FAP depends on expenses and circumstances. Use the Food Stamp Calculator to find out if you qualify.

    If you have questions about your eligibility, contact your local DHHS office. Your local legal services office may also be able to help you. Use Find a Lawyer to find legal services in your area.

    The Asset Limit

    Assets are cash or any property you own. The asset limit is $5,000.00. Here are some examples of assets that are counted:

    • Cash you have

    • Money in checking and savings accounts

    • Uncashed checks written to you

    • Lottery winnings (unless paid in installments, then they are counted as unearned income)

    • Investments

    • Some trusts

    • Real and personal property (other than your home and one household car)

    The asset limit only applies to available assets. “Available” means that someone in your household has a right to use or dispose of the asset. DHHS will assume any asset is available unless you have proof to show otherwise.

    If your household’s only income is cash assistance (FIP), State Disability Assistance (SDA), or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the asset limit won’t apply to you. This is because your household assets have already been screened for one of the other benefits.

    Exempt Assets

    Certain assets are not counted, like your home, retirement accounts, and state and local income tax returns. Federal tax returns are excluded for 12 months from when you receive the return. These are known as exempt assets.

    Vehicles, like cars, motorcycles, snowmobiles, and boats may be exempt depending on their use and value. If the total fair market value of your vehicle(s) is $15,000.00 or less, your vehicle(s) will be exempt from the asset limit. If the value of your vehicle(s) is more than $15,000.00, only the excess value will be applied towards the $5,000.00 asset limit. For example, if you own a car worth $12,000.00 and a motorcycle worth $5,000.00, $2,000.00 may be applied towards your asset limit. Since the combined value of your vehicles is $17,000.00, ($2,000.00 more than the limit) the excess $2,000.00 will be applied towards your asset limit.

    The rules regarding vehicles and FAP can be complex. If you have questions, contact your local DHHS office. Your local legal services may be able to help you. Use Find a Lawyer to find a legal services office near you.

    Jointly Owned Assets

    Assets owned by more than one person are jointly owned assets. These assets could be considered “unavailable” and not counted. The process of determining whether a jointly owned asset is unavailable can be complex. If you have questions about this, you may want to speak with lawyer. Use Find a Lawyer to find legal services in your area.