SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is a federal program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that provides food-purchasing assistance to low-income households. Beneficiaries now pay with electronic benefit transfer cards instead of food stamps.
Everyone who lives together and purchases and prepares meals together is grouped together as one SNAP household, according to the USDA. That’s the case even if they purchase and prepare meals separately. In most cases, you are not eligible for SNAP benefits if an institution gives you most of your meals, but there are exceptions for elderly persons and disabled persons.
In terms of income eligibility, the USDA looks at both gross income and net income. Normally, your household must meet both the gross and net income limits or you are not eligible for SNAP and can’t receive benefits. The exceptions are households with an elderly or disabled person, in which case you only need to meet the net income limit.
For the purposes of SNAP, gross income is a household’s total, non-excluded income before any deductions have been made. Net income is gross income minus allowable deductions.
If all members of your household receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income or, in some places, other general assistance, your household might be deemed “categorically eligible” for SNAP because you have already been determined eligible for another means-tested program.