General Eligibility Rules

SNAP eligibility rules and benefit levels are, for the most part, set at the federal level and uniform across the nation, although states have flexibility to tailor aspects of the program.

Factors That Impact Eligibility

There are a number of factors that impact a household’s eligibility for SNAP
benefits, including:

  • Monthly income (earned and unearned)
  • Household size
  • Age of those applying
  • Disability status of household members
  • Shelter and utility expenses
  • Other factors, which will be discussed in detail later in this guide

Federal rules mandate that a household’s income and resources must pass three tests to determine benefit eligibility, but most NYS households must only pass one—an income test:

Gross monthly income—the household income before any of the program’s deductions are applied—must be at or below:

200% of federal poverty level (FPL) for households containing senior or disabled members or that have out-of-pocket dependent care costs;

150% FPL for households that have earned income, and do not meet the 200% FPL criteria; and

130% FPL for households that do not meet the criteria for 200% or 150% of FPL.

See the SNAP Standards & Deductions Reference Sheet for the full FPL chart.

In NYS the following income and resources are not tested for most applicant households:

  • Net income—the household income after deductions are applied. Net Income must be at or below 100% of the FPL; and
  • Assets—owned property regarded as having value. Assets must fall below certain limits. Households that include a member who is elderly or has a disability must have assets of $4,250 or less. Households without such a member must have assets of $2,750 or less.

Applicants’ Responsibilities

SNAP applicants are required to participate in the application process in a number of ways.

Applicants must:

  • Provide documentation of household circumstances, and
  • An adult member of the household, or an authorized representative of the household, must participate in an interview to determine eligibility.
  • If unemployed or underemployed, certain household members may also be required to look for work or participate in activities to help them find a job.

This guide will explain all of the above concepts in detail.