If I Make $1,800 a Month, Can I Get Food Stamps?

Happy woman putting groceries on checkout counter in supermarket. stock photo
Drazen Zigic / iStock.com

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP EBT, formerly known as food stamps, helps individuals and families afford groceries, nonalcoholic beverages, and seeds for food-bearing plants and trees.

If you are having trouble making ends meet, especially with today’s record-high inflation, you may wonder if your household income qualifies you to receive SNAP EBT benefits. Depending on how many people live in your household and where you live, you may be able to qualify for SNAP benefits with an income of $1,800 per month. Read on to learn about the income qualifications for SNAP so you can determine whether you would qualify.

What Is SNAP?

SNAP EBT, formerly food stamps, is a federally funded, locally administered program that provides supplemental income, usually in the form of a prepaid debit card, to purchase food for preparation and consumption at home.

SNAP does not pay for:

  • Household goods, including cleaning products, paper goods or personal hygiene items
  • Pet food or pet items
  • Alcoholic beverages, tobacco or other substances
  • Vitamins or medicines
  • Foods purchased for dining in
  • Hot foods for take-home consumption
  • Clothing or other items

What Are the Income Qualifications for SNAP?

The income limits to qualify for food stamps change every year based on inflation. The income qualifications go into effect each year on Oct. 1 and last through the following year. Benefit amounts also change annually on Oct. 1.

The income limits also vary based on the size of the household. To make it more confusing, income limits vary by state, with Alaska and Hawaii having higher income limits than the 48 contiguous states; Washington, D.C.; Guam; and the U.S. Virgin Islands. There are also net and gross income limits to consider. In most cases, you must qualify under both standards. If you have a person age 60 or older or someone who is disabled living in your home, you only need to qualify based on net income.

Make Your Money Work for You

So let’s get down to it and figure out if you would qualify for food stamps if you earn $1,800 per month.

Gross Income Limits for Receiving SNAP Benefits

Here’s a look at the gross income limits for the fiscal year 2023, based on household size, for the 48 contiguous United States; Washington, D.C.; Guam; and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Size of Household 48 Contiguous States, DC, Guam, Virgin Islands Alaska Hawaii
1 $1,473 $1,841 $1,694
2 $1,984 $2,480 $2,282
3 $2,495 $3,119 $2,870
4 $3,007 $3,759 $3,458
5 $3,518 $4,398 $4,047
6 $4,029 $5,037 $4,635
7 $4,541 $5,676 $5,223
8 $5,052 $6,315 $5,811
Each additional household member $512 $640 $589
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

As you can see on the chart above, a single person could not make more than $1,473, before deductible expenses, to qualify. So if you were a single person, based on gross income standards, you could not collect SNAP benefits if you made $1,800 per month, unless you live in Alaska, where the upper limit is $1,841.

However, if you live in a household with two or more people and together bring in just $1,800, you could qualify. The upper limit in most places for homes with two people is $1,984. In Alaska, it is $2,480, and in Hawaii, it is $2,282.

Net Monthly Income Eligibility Limits for SNAP

Your net monthly income takes into account certain deductible expenses. So if your gross income is below the limits but your living expenses are very low, you may not qualify.

The chart below details the maximum net monthly incomes for different household sizes.

Size of Household 48 Contiguous States, DC, Guam, Virgin Islands Alaska Hawaii
1 $1,133 $1,416 $1,303
2 $1,526 $1,908 $1,755
3 $1,920 $2,400 $2,208
4 $2,313 $2,891 $2,660
5 $2,706 $3,383 $3,113
6 $3,100 $3,875 $3,565
7 $3,493 $4,366 $4,018
8 $3,886 $4,858 $4,470
Each additional household member $394 $492 $453
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

According to the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, you can deduct 20% off the top of your earned income, plus an additional deduction of $193 if you have up to three people in your household and $184 for households with four or more people.

Make Your Money Work for You

Additionally, you can receive a dependent care deduction if you need child care or home health aide services for dependent family members so you can work, go to school or receive job-related training.

Some states allow additional deductions:

  • Legally owed child support
  • Standard shelter deduction for homeless households

You may also be permitted to deduct additional shelter costs to calculate your net income. You can deduct property taxes, mortgage payments and interest (or rent), electricity, fuel for the home, water, and the basic cost of one telephone for the household.

You can deduct these expenses only for shelter costs totaling more than half the household’s income after other deductions. The shelter deduction is capped at $624, except in households with a family member age 60 or older or a disabled household member.

If you have a person age 60 or older or a disabled person in your home, you can also deduct costs for their medical care over $35 per month, as long as those costs aren’t covered by insurance. This can include prescriptions, co-pays and other costs related to medical care.

With all this in mind, if your gross income minus deductions is less than $1,133 for an individual or $1,526 for a home with two people, you can qualify for SNAP benefits. That means if you have a net income of $1,800 or more and have three or more people in your household, you can collect SNAP benefits. In Alaska, you can qualify with a net income of $1,800 and just two people in your home.

What You Can Buy With $1,800 Per Month

You might think that $1,800 per month sounds like a good monthly income, but when you think about the average costs of many things, you’ll find that paying household expenses on $1,800 per month does not leave much money for food. That’s why the gross income limit is more than $1,800 for all but a single person in the 48 contiguous United States; Washington, D.C.; Hawaii, Guam; and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

For instance, as noted in a press release from the Mortgage Bankers Association, according to its calculations, the median monthly mortgage payment that applicants applied forin April 2022 was $1,889.

Of course, median home prices vary dramatically in different cities across the U.S. So if you live in a city with a high cost of living, it might be hard to find a home below the median price.

Similarly, according to Rent.com’s Rent Report for September 2022, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment across the country is $2,054, while a one-bedroom is $1,721. If you only make $1,800 per month, that doesn’t leave much money for groceries.

Since shelter is the most basic need, we don’t have to dive much deeper to realize that a family of two living on $1,800 per month will need some financial assistance.

Fortunately, in addition to SNAP EBT benefits, there are other programs available to help, including the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program for electricity and home heating and the Lifeline program to receive assistance with home internet, phones and wireless phone service.

Information is accurate as of Oct. 7, 2022.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.


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