If you need a little help at the grocery store, then the federal food stamp program could provide a helping hand. Anyone can apply for food stamps as long as their income falls below certain limits. Social Security disability payments are considered a source of income on your food stamp application. As long as you meet the program requirements, you may well qualify for both types of benefit.
A person can receive food stamps while on Social Security disability, as long as that income combined with any other household income falls within the program limits.
Two Separate Programs
Your eligibility for Social Security disability is separate from the food stamp application process. In order to qualify for Social Security disability, you must have documentation of a medical disability and cannot work for at least a year. Applicants with terminal illnesses are also eligible for Social Security benefits. Social Security disability is not centered on income, but applicants often have low income due to their inability to work. If your Social Security benefits are lower than the maximum income allowed for food stamp applicants, then you can also apply to receive food stamp aid. The program has its own eligibility criteria and requires a separate application.
Food Stamps Income Limits
As of 2018, your net income must equal the national poverty line and your gross income must be 130 percent of the national poverty line or less. To give this some context, a single-person household must earn less than $1,316 gross (before tax) or $1,012 net to qualify. If your household includes a senior citizen or someone who receives some forms of disability, the household must meet only the net income test. Net income is the amount you receive in Social Security income after taxes are applied. If your benefits are not taxed, only your gross income is tested. The more people in your household, the more you can earn and still qualify for food stamps.
The Importance of Household Income
Unfortunately, your Social Security disability alone doesn’t determine whether you receive food stamps. The combined income of your household is used to determine whether your income meets the gross and net income tests. A household is defined as anyone who shares meals and expenses. Each household member over the age of 18 must submit income verification information along with your food stamp application. Documentation in the form of pay stubs or tax returns, if the person is self employed, is required.
California Has Its Own Scheme
Receiving Social Security disability and food stamps is possible in all states except California. The state of California prevents Social Security income recipients from applying for food stamps because the state provides a food stamp alternative for residents receiving SSI. Most certification periods are around 12 months, but people over the age of 60 or who are legally disabled can apply for an extended certification period. If you receive Social Security disability, you can receive food stamps for up to 24 months.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
- Social Security Administration: Food Stamp Facts
- Disability Rights Law Center: Are You Eligible for CalFresh if Receiving SSD or SSI?
- Social Security Administration: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in California
- CalFresh: How to Keep Getting CalFresh Benefits (Certification Periods)
Lanae Carr has been an entertainment and lifestyle writer since 2002. She began as a staff writer for the entertainment section of the "Emory Wheel" and she writes for various magazines and e-newsletters related to marketing and entertainment. Carr graduated from Emory University with a bachelor's degree in film studies and English.