SNAP (Formerly Known as Food Stamps)—Eligibility Information


The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) provides nutritional assistance benefits to children and families, the elderly, the disabled, unemployed and working families.

Applicants must be living in the state of Tennessee to receive SNAP benefits from Tennessee. 

Age and Relationship
There are no specific age limits to receive SNAP benefits.

  • 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 immigrant to get SNAP benefits
. Some legal immigrants are ineligible for SNAP benefits; however, dependents of an ineligible immigrant are often eligible. To be eligible, all SNAP household members must have a Social Security number or proof of having applied for one. 

To receive SNAP benefits, most people, 16–59 years old, must:

  • Register for work
  • Participate in the Employment and Training Program, if offered
  • Accept offers of employment
  • Not quit a job

Able-bodied adults without dependents aged 18–49 can receive only a limited number of benefit months in three years, unless working or volunteering with a reputable source at least 20 hours a week (80 hours per month) or more, or participating in a qualified training program for an average of 20 hours per week (80 hours per month) or more. 

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 SNAP benefits.
  • 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
To be eligible, a household cannot have financial assets over a certain amount. For most households, this limit is $2,250. For households containing a member who is disabled or 60 years of age, the limit is $3,500. 

Countable assets include:

  • Cash on hand
  • Money in checking
  • Savings accounts
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Property not up for sale
  • Lump-sum payments

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

For SNAP, vehicles do not count if they are used for family transportation, for going to and from work, for producing income, for subsistence hunting and fishing, as the household’s home, for transporting a disabled household member, and for carrying the household’s primary source of heating fuel or water. 

Income Tests

The SNAP 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
  • Most loans

Countable income includes:

  • Wages
  • Self-employment
  • Public assistance benefits
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Worker’s compensation
  • Child support
  • Pensions
  • Social security
  • Supplemental Security Income

Households containing 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 


If you’re over the net income limit for eligibility, you still might be able to qualify. SNAP rules allow these deductions to be made to your income total:

  • 20 percent deduction on earnings
  • Standard deduction given to all households
  • Dependent-care expenses incurred
  • Shelter/utility deduction for a nonspecial household, not to exceed $535
  • Medical expenses over $35 for elderly or disabled household members