Skip to Content

Food Stamp Program - Eligibility Information

Residency. Applicants must be living in the State of Tennessee to receive food stamps from Tennessee.

Age and Relationship. There are no specific age limits to receive food stamps. Parents and their children 21 years old or younger living together are considered one household. Minors who apply on their own must be living without their parents. Individuals living together and who purchase and prepare food together are treated as one household.

Citizenship and Social Security Numbers. An applicant must be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. National, or a qualified alien to get food stamp benefits. Some legal immigrants are ineligible for food stamps benefits; however, dependents of an ineligible immigrant are often eligible. To be eligible, all food stamp household members must have a social security number or proof of having applied for one.

Work. To receive food stamps, most able-bodied people between 16 and 59 years old must register for work, participate in the Employment & Training Program if offered, accept offers of employment, and cannot quit a job. Able-bodied adults without dependents aged 18 to 59 can receive only a limited number of benefit months in 3 years, unless working 80 hours per month or otherwise determined exempt from the rule.

Other Factors. Strikers must be resource and income eligible before the day of the strike. Most college students must be working an average of 20 hours per week, enrolled in work-study, caring for young dependents, or receiving Families First. Felons convicted of certain drug-related offenses are not eligible for food stamps. Individuals disqualified for fraud are ineligible for one year for the first offense, two years for the second offense, and permanently for the third. Dependents of disqualified or ineligible individuals may be eligible.

Resource Test. The asset limit is $2,250 for most households and $3,250 for households containing a member who is disabled or 60 years of age. Assets not counted are the home the applicant is presently living in and its lot, household goods, income producing property, real estate that is up for sale, cash value of life insurance, personal property, retirement accounts such as IRA and 401k plans, and vehicles with equity value under $1,500. Other vehicles not counted are those used for family transportation, to go to and from work, to produce income, for subsistence hunting and fishing, as the household’s home, to transport a disabled household member, and to carry the household’s primary source of heating fuel or water. Countable assets include cash on hand, money in checking, savings accounts, certificates of deposit, stocks, bonds, property not up for sale, and lump-sum payments.

Income Tests. The Food Stamp Program does not count scholarships, grants and loans used for tuition and fees, reimbursements, heating assistance, earnings of children age 17 and younger who are in school and most loans. Countable income includes wages, self-employment, public assistance benefits, unemployment benefits, worker’s compensation, child support, pensions, social security, and SSI. Households which contain an elderly or disabled member do not have to pass the gross income standards but are subject to the net income standards. To see if you might be eligible, click on the link below for the most current income limits to the program. Income Limits / Test Your Income

Deductions. Food stamp rules allow income deductions, including a 20% deduction on earnings, a standard deduction given to all households, dependent care expenses incurred, a shelter/utility deduction for a non-special household not to exceed $459, and medical expenses over $35 for elderly or disabled household members.