Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): A Primer on Eligibility and Benefits [April 28, 2014] [open pdf - 389KB]
"The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called the Food Stamp Program, is designed primarily to increase the food purchasing power of eligible low-income households to help them buy a nutritionally adequate low-cost diet. This report describes the rules related to eligibility for SNAP benefits as well as the rules for benefits and their redemption. SNAP is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service (USDA-FNS). SNAP is authorized by the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008. This law, formerly the Food Stamp Act of 1977, has since 1973 been reauthorized by the 'farm bill,' omnibus legislation that also typically includes the authorization of other federal agricultural policies and programs. The program was most recently reauthorized by the 2014 farm bill (P.L. 113-79, enacted February 7, 2014). SNAP eligibility and benefits are calculated on a household basis. Eligibility is determined through a traditional or a categorical eligibility path. Under traditional eligibility, applicant households must meet gross income, net income, and asset tests. Specifically, household gross monthly income (all income as defined by SNAP law) must be at or below 130% of the federal poverty level, and household net (SNAP-specified deductions are subtracted) monthly income must be at 100% of the federal poverty level. The traditional asset rules are set at $2,000 per household (inflation adjusted). (Households that contain an elderly or disabled member have a higher asset limit and also do not have to meet the gross income test.)"
CRS Report for Congress, R42505