For many people with disabilities, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – aka food stamps – is an invaluable lifeline. Nearly 14 million people with disabilities receive vital nutrition assistance through SNAP, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

What Benefits Does SNAP Provide to Disabled Individuals?

SNAP provides important nutritional support for many people, including those with disabilities who often live on lower, fixed incomes. The federal government pays the full cost of SNAP benefits. However, the individual states administer the program locally.

SNAP is available in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. If you wish to apply for SNAP benefits, you must do so through your local office.

Who Qualifies for SNAP Under “Disability” Rules?

Disabled persons or families with a disabled member have different eligibility rules than other low-income populations applying for SNAP. There are three main criteria a person must meet to qualify for SNAP benefits as a person with a disability (with some exceptions):

1. The person’s disability must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Receipt of federal disability or blindness payments under the Social Security Administration, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security disability or blindness payments.
  • Receipt of state disability or blindness payments based on SSI rules.
  • Receipt of a disability retirement benefit from a governmental agency because of a permanent disability.
  • Receipt of an annuity under the Railroad Retirement Act while also eligible for Medicare or disabled under SSI.
  • Being a totally disabled veteran.
  • Being the surviving spouse or child of a veteran who receives VA benefits and is classified as permanently disabled.

2. The applicant must also meet the net income test. For eligibility limits ending September 30, 2023, this means that their net household income (remaining income after all allowed deductions) must be less than or equal to 100 percent of the poverty line for a household of comparable size. For a household of one, this threshold is currently $1,133 per month.

However, if all members of a household are receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, SSI, or (in some places) other general assistance, the household may be “automatically” eligible for SNAP because of already determined eligibility for other means-tested programs.

3. The person with a disability meets a resource limit of no more than $4,250 in countable resources.

How Much SNAP Can a Person Receive?

The maximum SNAP award depends on household size. The government expects that households will use 30 percent of their own resources to purchase food. This is taken into consideration in the ultimate benefit amount. A household of one person can get a maximum of $281 per month in SNAP benefits.

SNAP Work Requirements

Most applicants that apply for SNAP are subject to work requirements. However, disabled individuals are exempt from this requirement and do not need to work a certain number of hours per week to qualify for SNAP.

Other Issues to Consider

SNAP is not available to individuals with an undocumented immigration status. This benefit is currently limited to U.S. Citizens and permanent residents. However, non-citizens must have lived in the U.S. for a minimum of five years, be receiving disability benefits, and be under 18. Income and resource limits still apply.

Denial of SNAP Benefits

If you believe you have been wrongly denied SNAP, you have the right to request a hearing with an administrative law judge to review the circumstances of your case. However, this request must be made within 90 days of the denial to your local SNAP office. If you are facing this situation, you may greatly benefit from the assistance of your special needs planner or other legal advocates.

Additional Resources

For more information, check out the following resources: