Food Stamp Program Highlights

Food Stamp Program Highlights

Household Composition

Food Stamp Household: The eligible group for food stamp purposes is the food stamp household, which is based solely on food units (a food unit is the number of individuals residing together and customarily purchasing food and preparing a majority of their meals together to eat at home).

All members of a given food unit must apply; one member cannot apply without the other members applying if the members state they eat together or if regulations require them to be in the same food unit.


  1. Spouses who live together must be in the same FS household.
  2. Children under 22 living with their parent(s) must be in the same FS household with the parent(s).
  3. Minors less than 18 living with an adult who provides parental control must be in the same FS household as that adult. ("Parental Control" only applies in situations where the adult is not the parent or stepparent of the minor he/she is living with.)
  4. Foster children can be in the household or not, depending on which choice yields the greater FS benefit for the household.
    1. Foster children cannot receive FS separately from the adult(s) they live with.


  1. People who pay others a fair market value for their prepared meals are generally not eligible for FS. To be considered boarders (and not part of the rest of the household):
    1. People who purchase 3 meals/day must pay an amount equal to at least the maximum monthly FS benefit.
    2. People who purchase 1 or 2 meals/day must pay an amount equal to at least two-thirds of the maximum monthly FS benefit.
  2. People who receive Meals on Wheels can get FS.
  3. Residents of senior housing who purchase group meals in the dining hall can get FS.
  4. Residents of institutions (e.g., prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, other health care facilities, college dormitories with meal plans) are not eligible.
  5. Residents of certified group homes, congregate care residences and drug/alcohol treatment facilities can get FS.


  1. $3,000 for aged (60+) and disabled households, and with income at or above 200% of the Federal Poverty Level
  2. No limit if the household is categorically eligible (all household members receive SSI, Family Assistance or Safety Net). Recent changes to the Food Stamp program have made all households that pass the Gross Income Limit (130% of FPL) categorically eligible, and consequently, most households are NOT subject to any resource test.


  1. The home and surrounding, adjacent property (no liens)
  2. Homestead property (where the household intends to build a home)
  3. Personal effects and household goods (e.g., clothing, televisions, furniture, tools)
  4. Real property being offered for sale at a fair market value
  5. Inaccessible resources (e.g., court-ordered trusts, property in probate, pension funds)
  6. Cash value of life insurance
  7. Burial plots (effective 1 Oct 2002) and $1,500 per food stamp household member for burial services and headstones.
  8. Income-producing property
  9. EITC exempt for 12 months after receipt
  10. Specifically excluded federal programs (e.g., WIC, HEAP, HUD energy or utility payments)

(Effective 19 Aug 2002)

Exclude completely:

  • One licensed vehicle per adult household member — regardless of use
  • One licensed vehicle for each household member under age 18 who drives to school, to work, to training or to look for work.
  • Title belongs to an individual who receives SSI, FA, or SN (all resources of categorically eligible individuals are exempt)
  • Used to transport a disabled household member
  • Income-producing (e.g., ice cream truck)
  • Used for employment — even if less than 50% of the time (must be on the job itself, not for commuting)
  • The household is living in the vehicle
  • The equity value is $1,500 or less
  • Household does not have title (i.e., leased)

See FS Source Book for other less common exclusions.

Albany County ExecutiveDaniel P. McCoy