Food stamps help low income families buy food. Though the program is federally mandated, it is administered by local agencies. If your income falls below the maximum limits for the program, you may be eligible to receive food stamps. Income limits are set based on the number of people in your household.
When applying for food stamps, the combined income of your household members over the age of 18 is used to determine your eligibility. Your household includes anyone in your home who buys food and shares meals together. If you have a child under the age of 22 or spouse in your home who buys food separately, he is still be considered a member of your household. The names and Social Security numbers of each household member and their individual incomes must be added to your food stamp application.
There is no minimum income for the federal food stamp program. Homeless families and anyone receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families can apply to receive food stamps. Some states offer emergency food stamp aid for families with very low income. For example, in the state of Georgia, the Department of Family and Children Services issues food stamps within a week to households with a combined weekly income of less than $150. If you live in a shelter, you can deduct shelter costs from the amount of your gross and net income to determine your eligibility.
A maximum income limit is set for households according to size. Your household must meet gross and net income tests in order to qualify. Gross income is the amount you make before taxes and net is the amount you make after taxes. As of 2011, if you live in a household alone, your gross income can be no more than $1,174 and $903 net. With a two-person household, your income must be less than $1,579 gross and $1,215 net. Households with three people can have a gross income of $1,984 or less and a net income of $1,526 or less. Four-person households must have a combined income of $2,389 gross or $1,838 net.
Food stamp applications require more than your word when verifying your income. You must submit copies of your most recent pay stubs to confirm your income. Pay stubs for all household members over the age of 18 are required unless anyone is self-employed. Self-employed individuals are required to submit their most recent tax return and bank statements instead of pay stubs. If someone in your home is receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, she is not required to submit income information on your food stamp application.
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.