Since you are looking at this site with an older browser, you will not be able to see any graphics or formatting. For better results, please upgrade your browser.

Food Stamps


Food stamps are federal benefits, and rules regarding eligibility and benefit levels are generally set at the federal level and uniform across the states. States are responsible for administering the program and make a number of important decisions regarding application, reporting, and recertification procedures that impact program accessibility [More detail and national data...]

Federal decisions are italicized.

Eligibility Criteria

Income eligibility criteria

Net income limit for family of 31$16,608/year (FY 2007)
Gross income limit for family of 32$21,588/year (FY 2007)

Treatment of child support income

Treatment of child support income3Counted in full (FY 2007)

Asset eligibility criteria

Asset limit4$2,000 (FY 2007)
Treatment of vehicles in asset test5Aligned to TANF-funded non-cash assistance rules (FY 2007)

Immigrant eligibility criteria

Federal restrictions on lawful permanent residents' (LPRs) access to benefits6Adults are generally barred during their first 5 years as LPRs; "deeming" may affect adults'' eligibility in other cases (children are not subject to "deeming"). (2005)
Legal immigrants eligible for state-funded benefits when barred from federal7No (2005)

Benefits

Benefit level

Monthly maximum benefit for family of 31$408/month (FY 2007)
Annual maximum benefit for family of 31$4,896/year (FY 2007)

Participants

Number of recipients

Number of recipients (households w/ children)8210,000 households (FY 2006)
Number of recipients (children)8474,000 children (FY 2006)

Spending

Total spending

Total spending (federal)9$1,126.0 million (FY 2007)

Spending per recipient

Monthly average benefit10$242/month (FY 2007)

Data Notes and Sources

Data on Food Stamps were compiled by NCCP in August 2008. Some policy decisions may have changed since these data were collected.

  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, "Food Stamp Program: Governments, Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) Information," http://www.fns.usda.gov (accessed March 22, 2007).
  2. Households in which all members receive TANF cash assistance or SSI benefits do not have to meet gross income or asset eligibility criteria. Most states also waive these criteria for recipients of certain other benefits; some states waive these criteria for nearly all applicants.
    U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, "Food Stamp Program: Governments, Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) Information," http://www.fns.usda.gov (accessed March 22, 2007).
  3. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, "Food Stamp Program: Eligibility," http://www.fns.usda.gov (accessed March 22, 2007).
  4. The asset limit for households with an elderly or disabled person is $3,000. Households in which all members receive TANF cash assistance or SSI benefits do not have to meet gross income or asset eligibility criteria. Most states also waive these criteria for recipients of certain other benefits; some states waive these criteria for nearly all applicants.
    U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, "Food Stamp Program: Eligibility," http://www.fns.usda.gov (accessed March 22, 2007).
  5. Households in which all members receive TANF cash assistance or SSI benefits do not have to meet gross income or asset eligibility criteria. Most states also waive these criteria for recipients of certain other benefits; some states waive these criteria for nearly all applicants.
    Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "States' Vehicle Asset Policies in the Food Stamp Program," November 2006.
  6. Immigrants who were at least 65 years old and legally residing in the U.S. as of 8/22/96 are exempt from the 5-year bar; refugees and U.S. veterans (and their families) are exempt regardless of when they entered the country. "Deeming" refers to adding the income and/or resources of the immigrant''s sponsor to that of the immigrant''s in determining eligibility. See data source for more details.
    National Immigration Law Center, Guide to Immigrant Eligibility for Federal Programs, Fourth Edition, 2002; with updates from Update Page, http://www.nilc.org (accessed October 28, 2005).
  7. Adult lawful permanent residents (LPRs) are generally barred from federal benefits during their first 5 years as LPRs. Exceptions include refugees and U.S. veterans (and their families). See data source for more details.
    National Immigration Law Center, Guide to Immigrant Eligibility for Federal Programs, Fourth Edition, 2002; with updates from Update Page, http://www.nilc.org (accessed October 28, 2005).
  8. This is an average monthly number.
    Kari Wolkwitz, Characteristics of Food Stamp Households: Fiscal Year 2006, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, September 2007, http://www.fns.usda.gov (accessed August 7, 2008).
  9. Figure reflects total spending on food stamp benefits, including benefits for households with and without children.
    U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, "Food Stamp Program Data," http://www.fns.usda.gov (accessed August 7, 2008).
  10. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, "Food Stamp Program Data," http://www.fns.usda.gov (accessed August 7, 2008).