Eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) is based on financial and non-financial factors. The application process includes completing and filing an application form, being interviewed, and verifying facts crucial to determining eligibility. With certain exceptions, a household that meets the eligibility requirements is qualified to receive benefits. Legal immigrants who are children or disabled can get SNAP benefits, as can legal immigrants who have legally resided in the United States for at least 5 years. Children of undocumented parents who have American citizenship are eligible for SNAP. Other legal immigrants and any undocumented immigrants are ineligible for SNAP benefits. Also, certain jobless adults without dependents have time limits on their receipt of SNAP benefits despite their willingness to work.
A household is defined as a person or a group of people living together, but not necessarily related, who purchase and prepare food together. Households, except those with elderly or disabled members, must have gross incomes below 130 percent of the poverty line. All households must have net incomes below 100 percent of poverty to be eligible. Households with an elderly person or a person who is receiving certain types of disability payments only have to meet the net income test. Households in which all members are receiving TANF, SSI, or in some places general assistance, do not have to meet any income tests.
USDA policy allows household asset limits to be set at $2,250 in countable resources (e.g., checking/savings account, cash, tocks/bonds). Households with at least one member who is age 60 or older or a member living with a disability may have up to $3,250 in resources. Some states have opted to apply no asset limits or higher asset limits as well as higher gross income eligibility levels. USDA has more information on state asset limits (pdf).