Key Takeaways

  • To qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, people need to meet certain income and resource limits.

  • People who qualify for SNAP receive money every month on an Electronic Benefits Transfer card (EBT).

  • You can find information about SNAP in your state and even apply online at NCOA's BenefitsCheckUp.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, is a federal program designed to help people buy the food they need to stay in good health. To qualify for this food assistance benefit, people need to meet certain income and resource limits.

People who qualify for SNAP receive money every month on an Electronic Benefits Transfer card (EBT) that can be used for qualifying food products at stores. Beneficiaries can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry and fish, bread, dairy and cereal, among other things.

There are special SNAP eligibility rules for people considered “elderly,” or people age 60 and over.

  • People with an elderly or disabled member can have up to $3,500 in countable resources and still qualify for SNAP.
  • Also, households with an elderly member only have to meet the “net” income test. This is your total income minus allowable deductions. Make sure you include any out of pocket medical expenses on your SNAP application.
  • Some deductions include: standard deduction of $167 per month for a household of up to 3 people. There is also a medical deduction for amounts over $35 each month that you must pay out of pocket for expenses.
  • A household of one elderly member can have up to $1,064 in net monthly income and qualify for SNAP benefits. A two-person household can have up to $1,437.
  • The average benefit for older Americans is $105 per month.
  • If you could use help with purchasing food, make sure you apply for SNAP. Even if you think your income is too high, you may still qualify based on the allowable deductions.

What else should I know about SNAP?

  • People who receive Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) or SSI may be automatically eligible for SNAP benefits. Talk to your local social services office.
  • If you qualify for SNAP, apply and use your benefits! Everyone who meets the program requirements can get benefits—you are not taking the money away from anyone else. There is not a limited amount of money for this program.

How do I apply for SNAP?

  • You must apply for SNAP in the state where you currently live.
  • You can find information about SNAP in your state and even apply online at NCOA's BenefitsCheckUp.
  • Decisions on eligibility should be made within 30 days of applying for benefits. If you have very little cash and resources you may be able to get a decision faster.
  • You can also apply for SNAP in-person at your local social services office.