Can a Dependent Apply for Food Stamps?

Can a Dependent Apply for Food Stamps?
••• Steve Debenport/E+/GettyImages

The federal food stamp program is available to families with very low income. The income of all household members over the age of 18 is tested against gross and net income guidelines set forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Heads of households and legal dependents can complete and return a food stamp application, as long as the family meets the program requirements.


  • Legal dependents are eligible to complete and return applications for food stamps. That being said, their application will only be accepted if their family meets the requirements for the program.

Household Requirements

Any member of a household can apply for food stamps. If an applicant is a dependent, she can complete the food stamp application on behalf of the other members in the household. A household is defined as anyone living in the same home that shares meals and buys food together. A signature is required at the end of the food stamp application. A dependent who is also a minor needs the signature of an adult household member over the age of 18 before mailing the application.

Income Limits

Legal dependents are not the primary breadwinners in a household, but still have to report their income on a food stamp application if over the age of 18. The applicant and all other adults in the household should submit copies of pay stubs or tax returns, if self-employed, along with the food stamp application. The amount your household can earn is based on the number of people present in your home. If anyone is receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, his income is not considered on your food stamp application.

Elderly & Disabled

Elderly and disabled food stamp recipients are rarely required to participate in an in-person interview. Instead, a case worker can meet with an authorized representative on behalf of the household. The representative can be a legal dependent of the person receiving aid. Dependents are required to provide verification of information included in the food stamp application, such as the amount of the household income, countable resources and deductions. Countable resources like bank accounts or retirement accounts cannot exceed $3,500 for applicants over the age of 60 and applicants who are disabled. Deductions such as childcare costs or the cost of shelter can be subtracted from your household income before your income is tested against gross and net income limits.

Other Considerations

Dependents are able to complete food stamp applications as long as they have accurate information to report on behalf of the household. In many cases, the head of household is not able to attend food stamp interviews and can authorize someone else to attend on their behalf. Most dependents are a part of a household. Dependents are not eligible for food stamps on their own, unless they purchase meals separately from other members of the household, are over the age of 22 and do not live at home with their parents or legal guardian. If the dependent does not qualify as a separate household, the other household members must meet the requirements of the program in order for the family to receive food stamps.