Can You Get Food Stamps While on Disability?

SSDI eligibility won’t automatically qualify you for food stamps, but being disabled does make it easier to qualify.

How old are you?

Food stamps are benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Even though SNAP is a federal program, applications for food stamps are handled at the state level. Each state also sets some of its own eligibility rules, and the states differ in some aspects regarding the criteria for qualifying.

For example, some states don't count a primary vehicle as an asset for purposes of determining whether you have too many resources (assets) to qualify for SNAP. In all states, however, you need to meet certain income and resource limits to qualify for SNAP benefits.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) disability payments are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you're getting SSDI, you've met Social Security's eligibility requirements for disability benefits, including having worked and paid Social Security taxes (FICA) long enough to earn sufficient "work credits." To get SSDI benefits, you must apply directly to Social Security. (Learn more about how SSDI benefits work.)

If you're receiving SSDI and also qualify for SNAP benefits, you can receive food stamps (in the form of an "electronic benefits transfer" or EBT card). But if your income and resources are too high, you won't be eligible for SNAP benefits even if you're getting SSDI disability and don't earn too much income for SSDI.

But SNAP does have some special rules for people who are disabled that can make it easier to qualify for food stamps. Here's what you need to know about qualifying for SNAP benefits as a disabled person, including how to apply for food stamps.

How Does a Disabled Person Qualify for SNAP?

Your eligibility for food stamps is based on your income and other financial resources. And as a disabled person, SNAP doesn't count all of your income—allowing you to deduct certain expenses and making it easier to qualify for food stamps. If you're receiving SSDI, the SNAP program will already consider you disabled.

SNAP Income Limits for Food Stamps

Normally, you must meet both the "gross" income (before taxes and other deductions) and the "net" income (after taxes and deductions) limits to qualify for food stamps. But if you're disabled and getting SSDI, you need only meet the net income limit.

The chart below shows the income limits for households that apply for SNAP benefits from October 2022 through September 2023. The income limits are higher in Alaska and Hawaii.

Income Limits for SNAP Benefits Based on Household Size

Household Size Gross monthly income (130% of poverty) Net monthly income (100% of poverty)
1 $1,473 $1,133
2 $1,984 $1,526
3 $2,495 $1,920
4 $3,007 $2,313
5 $3,518 $2,706
6 $4,029 $3,100
7 $4,541 $3,493
8 $5,052 $3,886
Each additional household member +$512 +$394

Deductions: Income That SNAP Doesn't Count

If you're getting SSDI disability benefits, SNAP doesn't count all your income when determining your eligibility for food stamps. To determine your net income for SNAP purposes, you can subtract the following from your gross household income:

  • 20% of your earned income
  • $193 for households of one to four people (the "standard deduction")
  • dependent care costs when needed for you to work, get training, or go to school
  • your medical expenses over $35 for the month (if not paid by insurance or someone outside your household), including:
    • doctor bills
    • medication costs (when approved or prescribed by a doctor)
    • inpatient and outpatient hospital expenses
    • cost of nursing care
    • cost of dentures, and
    • other medically related expenses (like certain transportation costs, attendant care, and health insurance premiums).

You can also deduct all of your housing costs that are more than half of your household's income, including the following:

  • rent or mortgage payments and interest
  • taxes on the home
  • fuel for heat and cooking
  • electricity
  • water, and
  • the basic fees for one telephone.

If you're homeless, you're allowed a standard shelter deduction of $166.81.

In some states, you can also deduct any court-ordered child support payments you make.

Resource Limits for Food Stamps

Even if you meet the income requirements for SNAP benefits, you won't qualify for food stamps if your resources exceed the limit. Normally, households can have up to $2,750 in countable resources (like cash or money in a bank account) and still qualify for food stamps. But since you're disabled, you can qualify for SNAP benefits with up to $4,250 in countable resources.

Typically, your home or lot doesn't count as an asset for SNAP purposes. Neither do your furniture or clothing. One car per adult (and any vehicles used by household members under 18 to get to school or work) are also not counted as resources. Some other licensed vehicles are excluded, including the following:

  • vehicles used to earn income (like taxis, trucks, and delivery vehicles)
  • a vehicle you use as your home (like a motorhome you live in full-time)
  • a vehicle needed to transport a physically disabled person
  • vehicles used to carry most of your household's fuel or water, or
  • a vehicle that's worth less than $1,500 if sold.

Unlicensed vehicles usually count as resources. For excluded vehicles, if the fair market value is over $4,650, the excess value counts as a resource.

For instance, let's say you own an extra vehicle, like an RV you use for camping, and you're not still making payments on it. If the RV's fair market value is $15,000, it would count as $10,350 in resources ($15,000 - $4,650 = $10,350).

How Much Can a Disabled Person Get in Food Stamps?

If you qualify for SNAP benefits, the amount of food stamps you'd get each month would be based on three things:

  • your income and resources
  • the size of your household, and
  • where you live.

For instance, in the District of Columbia and 48 states (not including Alaska or Hawaii), the minimum SNAP benefit amount is $23 per month for the fiscal year 2023 (October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023).

The maximum amount of food stamps you could get in FY2023 depends on the size of your household. In DC and the lower 48 states, it breaks down this way:

  • 1-person household: $281
  • 2-person household: $516
  • 3-person household: $740
  • 4-person household: $939
  • 5-person household: $1,116
  • 6-person household: $1,339
  • 7-person household: $1,480
  • 8-person household: $1,691
  • 9-person household or larger: add $211 for each additional household member.

The maximum amount of SNAP benefits is higher in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands due to the higher cost of living in those places.

How to Apply for Food Stamps as a Disabled Person

To apply for food stamps, you'll need to contact your state SNAP office, even if you're already receiving SSDI benefits. Your local SNAP program might be administered by your state's Social Services Agency, Department of Human Services, Department of Health, or another similar name.

Each state has its own application form and process. Some offer online SNAP applications. Others require you to contact your local SNAP office. You can find links to your state's SNAP website and contact information using the interactive map on the USDA's SNAP State Directory of Resources website.

Updated November 22, 2022

Talk to a Disability Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
Boost Your Chance of Being Approved

Get the Compensation You Deserve

Our experts have helped thousands like you get cash benefits.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you