SNAP Benefits

Updated: November 7, 2023
In this Article

    The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps low-income families purchase nutritious food. More than 20,000 military families, 213,000 members of the National Guard and reserve and 1.1 million veterans need SNAP to make ends meet, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    SNAP benefits are announced in August each year, and go into effect from October 1 to September 30. Benefits are based off of the cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA). In 2024, the USDA increased benefits by 3.2% from 2023.

    » MORE: Shop deals & SNAP-eligible groceries on Amazon

    Who Qualifies for SNAP

    SNAP is a need-based program with income and resource limits, as well as employment and citizenship requirements. You must be a U.S. citizen to qualify for SNAP, although exceptions exist for children and for those who receive disability benefits and have lived in the United States for at least five years.

    » Did you know? You can now check your SNAP EBT balance on Amazon

    Resource Limits

    The USDA sets resource limits for households to qualify for SNAP benefits. A household means “everyone who lives together and purchases and prepares meals together,” as well as spouses and children younger than 22, according to the USDA.

    The household may have a maximum $2,750 in “countable resources,” effective Oct. 1, 2023. Countable resources include funds in cash or in a bank account. In cases where at least one member has a disability or is at least 60 years old, the resource cap increases to $4,250.

    Countable resources do not include SSI benefits, the family’s home, its lot or most retirement and pension plans

    Each state determines whether a vehicle counts as a resource. 

    According to the USDA, your vehicle may not count as a resource if: 

    • It’s valued under $1,500 
    • You use it as a home
    • You use it to produce income
    • You use it to transport a physically disabled member of the household 
    • You use it to carry most of the household’s fuel or water

    Check with your state’s SNAP office for further details.

    Income Limits

    SNAP has gross and net income limits, based on the number of people in the household. You must meet both requirements to qualify. The gross monthly income is based on 130% of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) poverty guideline for those living in the continental U.S. Net income is based on 100% of the poverty line. However, these limits are higher in Alaska and Hawaii.

    If someone in your household is over age 60, you only need to meet the net income limit.

    For example, effective Oct. 1, 2023, through Sept. 30, 2024, two-person households have a gross monthly income limit of $2,137 and a net monthly income limit of $1,644.

    SNAP Gross Income Eligibility Limits (130% of Federal Poverty Threshold)

    (Effective Oct. 1 2023-Sept. 30 2024)
    Household Size48 States,
    District of Columbia,
    Guam, Virgin Islands
    Each additional member$557$697$641

    SNAP Net Income Eligibility Limits (100% of Federal Poverty Threshold)

    (Effective Oct. 1 2023-Sept. 30 2024)
    Household Size48 States,
    District of Columbia,
    Guam, Virgin Islands
    Each additional member$429$536$493

    Note: Most military pay and allowances count as household income, according to the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. This includes basic allowance for housing (BAH) and basic allowance for subsistence (BAS). Only combat pay, hostile fire pay and imminent danger pay do not count.

    SNAP Employment Requirements

    You must also meet the following work requirements to be eligible for the SNAP program, according to the USDA:

    • Not voluntarily quitting a job
    • Not voluntarily reducing your hours of employment
    • Taking a job when you are offered one
    • Participating in employment and training programs, if your state offers them

    To receive benefits for more than three months in a 36-month period, you must work or participate in a work program for at least 20 hours per week, according to the USDA. However, children, senior citizens, pregnant people and people with physical or mental limitations are exempt from this requirement.

    SNAP Benefits Versus the Military’s Assistance Program

    The Department of Defense approved a new basic needs allowance (BNA) for service members whose household income falls below a certain threshold. Like SNAP, gross household income must fall below 130% of the poverty level.

    The BNA will provide a monthly benefit that brings the household income up to 130% of the poverty threshold.

    How BNA Differs from SNAP

    SNAP recipients receive a debit card that can be used for food items only. The government replenishes the debit card balance each month. 

    DOD adds BNA to military members’ pay. The funds are not subject to SNAP’s purchase restrictions.

    Can SNAP and BNA Be Used Concurrently?

    No. Once you receive BNA benefits, your eligibility for SNAP ends. Military pay and allowances count as household income, so you must report BNA income to the SNAP office. 

    Receiving BNA benefits may also affect your ability to financially qualify for other government programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). It may also change eligibility for school lunch programs, earned income tax credits and other benefits.

    Tax code for both federal and state income taxes changes frequently. Ask a tax professional how receiving federal assistance such as SNAP or BNA affects taxes.

    Written by Team