How to Determine the Monthly Amount of Food Stamps

••• Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

On Oct. 1, 2008, the federal government renamed the Food Stamp Program the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Individuals and families who qualify for SNAP receive a monthly stipend on a debit card to assist them with their food purchases. You can use SNAP cards to purchase food to prepare and eat and plants or seeds to grow food. You cannot use the benefits to buy nonfood items, alcohol, tobacco or prepared food.

Calculate your gross monthly income. From October 2010 through September 2011, the government allows individuals to qualify for SNAP if their income is $1,174 or less each month. Add $405 for each household member – up to eight members – to the individual amount to compute the income allowed for your household. If you have more than eight people in your household, add $406 for person nine and above. You must count all income – including other government assistance payments – for each member of your household.

Subtract your deductions. Begin with subtracting 20 percent of your earned income, then subtract the standard deduction. The standard deduction is $142 for households with three or fewer people and $153 for households with four or more people. Subtract the amount that you pay for dependent care while you work, go to school or look for a job. As of 2008, you can claim the full amount that you pay but you may have to prove the expense. Subtract any medical expenses for elderly or disabled people that are more than $35 and not reimbursed by a third party. Subtract any court-ordered child support payments. You can subtract $143 if you are homeless, depending on your state rules.

Determine your excess shelter deduction by dividing your adjusted gross income by two and subtracting that amount from your total shelter cost. When determining your total shelter costs, add your rent or mortgage payment, property taxes, electricity, water, heating fuel and telephone costs.

Compare your total adjusted income to the SNAP net monthly income limits. The net income allowed for an individual as of October 2010, is $903. For each additional household member, add $312 to determine your household’s net monthly income limit.

Determine the amount of your benefit by multiplying your net income by 30 percent and subtracting this amount from the maximum monthly allotment. The monthly allotment is dependent on how many people are in your household and starts at $200 for individuals. A full maximum monthly allotment table is available by clicking on the link in Resources.


  • You can use the pre-screening tool (see Resources) to help determine your eligibility.