Eligibility for the food stamps program depends on the applicant being able to successfully show or provide evidence of residency status, income, ongoing changes, resources, and work.
Citizenship must be proven by a birth certificate. Valid immigration status requires proof of residency status or a valid exception for entry into the U.S. (i.e. humanitarian reasons). For non-citizens, applicants must then be able to show they have been in the U.S. for at least five years to be eligible.
Income is measured as gross income below 130 percent of established Federal poverty level or FPL. The applicant is then tested for net income metrics, which allows certain deductions for utilities, a standard deduction, medical and dependent care, and shelter. The net calculation has to be below 100 percent of the federal poverty level to continue food stamp eligibility. Some types of income can be excluded as well, including non-monetary help from others, grants or scholarships, irregular income that is less than $30 a month, and charity organization gifts under $300 in a quarter.
Where an applicant’s situation has changed, particularly with income, that information has to be reported to the food stamp program and evaluated for continued eligibility. The change has to be reported within 10 days of it occurring. Common changes include income changes of more than $25 a month, loss of a household member, savings or cash on hand of more than $2,000, or a change in child support payments required.
To maintain food stamp eligibility , households have to submit a quarterly report on a QR-7 form, which tracks expected medical costs, child care costs, changes in income, changes in household, or changes in other benefits. Recipients are required to fill the report out truthfully.
Finally, applicants have report owned resources which could be liquidated for cash. This includes a home, car, jewelry or other valuable assets. Resources adding up to more than $2,000 combined can make a household ineligible for food stamp participation.
All able-bodied persons in a household have to work at least 20 hours a week or participate in a county Workfare program as well to maintain food stamp eligibility.