How Much Can You Get on Food Stamps If You're Homeless?

by Jane Meggitt ; Updated June 30, 2018
How Much Can You Get on Food Stamps If You're Homeless?

Just because someone doesn’t have a permanent address doesn’t mean she is ineligible for food stamps, or the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) as it is formally known. SNAP workers will do their best to accommodate homeless people. When applying for SNAP benefits, homeless individuals living in shelters must submit a letter from a shelter employee stating that they live there. It doesn’t matter whether the homeless shelter provides meals.

Authorized Representative Address

Although a homeless person may not have an address, he can use the address of an authorized representative as a place to receive his mail from SNAP. It is also possible for the homeless person to arrange to pick up related mail at the SNAP office or have mailings sent to the homeless shelter where he resides. The SNAP representatives will help the homeless with these issues.

SNAP Eligibility Limits

For 2018, a single person meeting the SNAP income eligibility requirements may receive a maximum monthly amount of $192. For a homeless household of two people, the maximum amount is $352. The SNAP benefits are credited to a card each month that the person can use to buy food.

In most cases, a household must meet both the gross income (total income before deductions) and net income (gross income minus allowable deductions) SNAP eligibility requirements. The net monthly income limit for one person is $1,005, putting a person at 100 percent of the federal poverty level, while the gross monthly income limit is $1,307, or 130 percent of the federal poverty level. For a household of two, the net and gross monthly income limits are $1,354 and $1,760 respectively. SNAP income limits are higher in Alaska and Hawaii.

If a homeless person is already receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or is a member of a household receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), he is usually “categorically eligible” for SNAP as the United States Department of Agriculture terms it, because these other means-tested programs have already determined eligibility. Persons under age 18 who do not live with their parents may apply for SNAP on their own.

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Soup Kitchens, Homeless Shelters and Restaurants

Homeless people aren’t limited to using SNAP benefits at the supermarket. They can also use their SNAP benefits at other facilities, such as soup kitchens and homeless shelters. Some states permit the use of SNAP benefits in restaurants, although this use requires a special card. A homeless individual can request such a card from their SNAP representative.

SNAP Work Requirements

Although SNAP doesn’t have requirements for a fixed address, it does include work requirements for some applicants. Able-bodied adults with no dependents must work, or visit a work program, at least 20 hours per week for SNAP eligibility. People cannot quit jobs voluntarily or reject suitable work offers and retain SNAP benefits. Pregnant women, individuals with children under age 6, those over 60 or under 18 and people with diagnosed mental or physical disabilities do not have to meet the work requirements.

About the Author

A graduate of New York University, Jane Meggitt's work has appeared in dozens of publications, including Sapling, Zack's, Financial Advisor, nj.com, LegalZoom and The Nest.

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