Food Stamp Program

  • Date: April 26, 2011
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The Food Stamp Program of US is aimed at providing assistance to low and no-income group of people to buy food. The program is actually known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and though it is under the ambit of Federal government (U.S. Department of agriculture), the benefits are distributed by local or state agencies.

Eligibility to get Food Stamps:
The basic criteria to be eligible for Food Stamp is that the person must be either a U.S. Citizen, U.S. national or have the status of a qualified alien. Besides, he must be having or must have applied for a Social Security Number. The term ‘qualified alien’ includes the following set of people:


Children who are legal immigrants and are below the age of 18.
Legal immigrants who are blind and disabled and receive disability assistance or benefits.
Those born on or before August 22, 1931 and who legally reside in the United States on August 22, 1996.
Active duty members or veterans of the US armed forces or their respective spouses or children who are otherwise lawful permanent residents of the U.S.
Refugees under section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
Those granted asylum under section 208 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
Deportees or removals that have been withheld by the provisions of the INA (Sec 243(h) and 241(b) (3).
Cuban or Haitian entrants under section 501(e) of Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980.
American immigrants under section 584 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 1988.
There are certain ‘legal aliens’ who are eligible for Food Stamp without any waiting period or are not otherwise qualified as ‘qualified aliens’. They are:
Highland Laotian tribe members (including their spouses and children) who provided assistance to the US army during Vietnam war.
Canada born American Indians
Members of Indian tribes under certain sections of various relevant Acts
Following ‘qualified aliens’ are eligible if they have lived in US for five years in qualified status
Lawful permanent residents (if they are working and have 40 work credits then they become eligible before the period of 5 years)
Conditional entrants as per relevant sections of INA.
A battered spouse, child or parent or the child of a battered person with petition pending under relevant section of INA
Able-bodied people between the age of 18 and 60 must have registered for work or participate in an employment or training program to be eligible for Food Stamps.
Resource and Income Criteria for Eligibility
A household can qualify for receiving Food Stamp if it does not have resources in excess of $2000. Resources include cash, bank accounts and certain other property as specified. In case the household houses a person who is 60 years old or more or if he is disabled then the limit is extended to $3000. Usually households need to meet an income criterion to be considered eligible. Such limits vary according to the size of the household and are subject to change every year.
How can one apply for Food Stamps?
The Social Security Office provides applications for Food Stamps. If all members in a household are already receiving SSI payments then the Social Security Office will help them to fill-up and send the Food Stamp application. Based on the application the applicants are called for interview and they need to produce a set of specified documents for proving their eligibility for receiving the benefits.
The number of Americans receiving benefit under the Food Stamp Program has reached 43 million as on November 2010 and is growing at a rate of 20000 people per day.



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