What Are the Allowable Deductions for Food Stamps?

Christian Worstell
In this article...
  • Food stamp recipients must meet income thresholds to qualify for aid, and the program allows applicants to take certain deductions when applying. Learn more.

When applying for food stamps or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), applicants are required to include their net income to determine eligibility.

An applicant's gross and net income must fall within certain thresholds to qualify for SNAP, but the program offers allowable deductions to help applicants qualify and maximize benefits. 

What Are the Allowable Deductions for Food Stamps/SNAP?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, allows seven acceptable deductions for applicants.

If one or more of the allowable deductions for food stamps/SNAP apply to one or more individuals in an applicant's household, the deductions can be taken out prior to application submission, and each deduction will be considered when determining eligibility and food benefit monthly allotments. Below is a breakdown of the seven allowable deductions for SNAP applicants: 

Earned Income 

Individuals can deduct 20% of their total earned income when applying for SNAP benefits. Income types include wages, salary or commissions, and the 20% total should be deducted from the applicant's reported net pay.

Household Deduction

If an applicant's household consists of one to three people, they can typically deduct $155 from their total net income on their SNAP application. An applicant with four or more household members is usually allowed to deduct $163 from their total net income.

Personal Care Deduction

Applicants who work and must pay for personal care for children, older adults or disabled household members are generally allowed to deduct these costs from their net income on SNAP applications. Pet care is not an allowable deduction. 

Medical Expenses

Some medical costs for older adults and household members with disabilities are allowable deductions when applying for SNAP benefits. Older adults and disabled individuals required to pay $35 or more in out-of-pocket medical costs (excluding copays) can generally deduct the costs from their total gross income on their SNAP applications.

Child Support Payments

Legally owed child support payments are an allowable deduction for SNAP benefits. Applicants must provide copies of court documents verifying that they are legally required to make these payments to utilize the deduction. 

Shelter Costs

Certain states allow applicants to deduct costs related to living in a homeless shelter. To receive this deduction, an applicant must first determine if the deduction is allowed in their state and make sure to note on their application that they are currently residing in a homeless shelter. 

Approved Shelter Costs

Approved shelter costs are an allowable deduction if the costs are higher than at least half of a household's entire net income after taking the other six allowable deductions. Specific approved shelter costs may include utilities, rent, mortgage payments and property taxes.

It's important to note that approved shelter cost deductions cannot exceed $504 unless the applicants reside in Hawaii or Alaska due to the cost of living in these states. 

Can Applicants Revise Their Deductions When Recertifying for SNAP?

Applicants are required to report changes in income when increases exceed $100 per month, and they must also report any changes in legally obligated child support payments and if the number of household members living in their homes increases or decreases.

Deductions are allowed for earned income, household members and child support, so an applicant can revise their deductions if these circumstances change prior to recertifying for SNAP. To get help with calculating your new deduction amount, look up a food stamp deduction calculator. 

What Happens After You Submit a SNAP Application?

After an applicant submits a SNAP application in their county, the local SNAP office generally has 30 days to make a determination. In cases where applicants express an immediate or urgent need for food, the local SNAP agency may allow for expedited benefits, which are typically provided within 7 calendar days.

Once an application is approved and a benefit amount is determined, the recipient should receive their SNAP debit card within the 30-day time frame. The SNAP debit card can be used at any participating grocery store for the purchase of approved foods and beverages.

If an application is denied, the recipient should also receive the denial notice in the mail within the 30-day time period, along with instructions on how to appeal the decision. 

Christian Worstell
About the Author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with HelpAdivsor.com. He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

While at HelpAdvisor, Christian has written hundreds of articles that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. You can find Christian’s most recent articles in our blog.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at Mike@MyHelpAdvisor.com.

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