Getting approved for food stamps can bring relief to families suffering from inadequate incomes. If you're receiving food stamp benefits in Florida, and something about your situation changes – such as someone moves out of the house or you lose your job – you should report it to your caseworker at the Florida Department of Children and Family Services. Not reporting a change such as a significant increase in your finances could result in your being overpaid benefits, which can cause trouble. Additionally, not reporting a loss of income means you'll be doing without extra benefits you might qualify for.
It is important that food stamp participants in Florida report any changes in income, family size and expenses.
Florida participates in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's simplified reporting plan. This means, if your income increases, you don't have to report it unless it exceeds the income limit for your family size. For instance, if you're part of a family of three people living in Florida, you're allowed to earn $2,252 in gross (before tax) income while receiving food stamps. As long as your income doesn't increase beyond this amount, you don't have to report it until your next re-determination date.
If your income drops, or you lose your job, you don't have to report it due to the simplified reporting plan, but you may want to anyway. A decrease in income may well have an impact on how much assistance you qualify for, according to the USDA. For example, if you qualified for food stamps while making the maximum amount of income for your family – let's say $2,252 for a family of three – and then your income drops well below that number, your benefits will likely increase. Let your food stamp caseworker at the Florida Department of Children and Families know right away.
Change in Family Size
Income caps are set by household size both in Florida and in all United States and territories, according to the USDA. They begin at $1,316 gross for one person and increase by around $400 as people are added to the family ($1,784 for two people, $2,252 for three people and so on). If you're approved for food stamps as a family of three, and another person moves in with you, or you have another child, your gross limit just increased by $400. Check with your caseworker to see if you qualify for more benefits. Additionally, if someone moves out, your maximum decreases by $400, and you may qualify for fewer benefits.
Change in Expenses
The deductions that reduce your gross income to net income also impact how much assistance you receive in Florida. Your caseworker is allowed to deduct child support payments, excessive housing costs (meaning housing expenses that take half or more of your gross income) and medical expenses for elderly or disabled family members, among other things. If your expenses suddenly increase – or suddenly decline – let your food stamp caseworker know. You'll want to see if you qualify for more benefits, if they increased, and avoid getting overpaid if they decrease.
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."