Anyone suffering from a lack of adequate nutrition is eligible to apply for food stamp benefits. Age doesn't matter. If you're under 18 and living alone, you have the right to apply for food stamps. If you're under 18 and living with family, then your family has the right to apply for food stamps if the household income falls below the program limit. The food stamp program, renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in 2008, was designed to provide needy people with the means to provide themselves with food.
Age is not a factor when applying for food stamps. With that in mind, individuals under the age of 18 are eligible to apply for this valuable program.
When You Live Alone
The SNAP program helps low-income people buy nutritious food. Anyone can apply for the program no matter what their age or whether or not they have dependents. All that matters is that your income qualifies. In 2018, you must earn less than $1,307 per month before taxes and $1,005 per month after taxes to qualify for the program. Special rules apply to college students interested in applying for food stamps. If you're under 18 and attending post-secondary school, whether it's a four-year college or a vocational school, you automatically qualify for benefits even if you are not working. The work requirement of being employed at least 20 hours a week, which applies to most students, won't apply to you until you reach 18.
When You Live With Family
Minors aged 18 years or younger who live with their parents, foster parents or other family members or caretakers are not eligible to apply for food stamps on their own. Rather, the household must apply on the basis that the combined household income – that's the total wages of everyone working – falls below the SNAP income limit. The limit test varies depending on the number of people in the household. If there were four of you, for example, the combined income must be less than $2,665 gross and $2,050 net in 2018.
Rules for Immigrants
Children under 18 who are born to legal immigrants in the United States qualify for food stamp benefits without a waiting period, according to the Social Security Administration. Most immigrants must complete a five-year residency period before they're eligible to apply for benefits, but immigrant children under 18 are immediately eligible.
Not in College
If you're under 18, living alone and not attending college, you may have to fulfill work requirements, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. All able-bodied adults between the ages of 16 and 60 must register for work and accept offered employment in order to qualify for SNAP benefits. This rule can be waived by the state if you live in an area where the labor force is greater than the available work.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: SNAP Eligibility
- United Way of Connecticut: Food Stamps
- Social Security Administration: Food Stamp Facts
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Unemployment rate rises to record high 14.7 percent in April 2020." Accessed June 25, 2020.
- U.S. Department of the Treasury. "The CARES Act Provides Assistance to Workers and their Families." Accessed June 25, 2020.
- U.S. Department of Labor. "Unemployment Insurance Relief During COVID-19 Outbreak." Accessed June 25, 2020.
- Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. "SNAP Eligibility." Accessed June 25, 2020.
- Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. "About WIC - WIC at a Glance." Accessed June 25, 2020.
- USA.gov. "Food Assistance." Accessed June 25, 2020.
Brooke Julia has been a writer since 2009. Her work has been featured in regional magazines, including "She" and "Hagerstown Magazine," as well as national magazines, including "Pregnancy & Newborn" and "Fit Pregnancy."