The Florida Food Assistance Program helps eligible low-income families and individuals buy food needed for good health. Food Assistance benefits are intended to supplement other household income and may only be used to purchase food. If you meet the program eligibility guidelines, you will get a special debit card (called an EBT Card). The EBT card is loaded monthly with the money you qualify for. You can then use the card to purchase food at grocery and other approved locations. The amount of money a household gets may depend on three things:
- household income from all sources (earned and unearned) such as money you get from a job, Social Security, SSI, or interest
- how many people live in your household
- where you live
If you want to apply for Florida Food Stamps, you have to make sure you qualify and are eligible. There are strict eligibility requirements that you must follow to apply for Food Assistance. In this article, we will discuss the guidelines for qualifying for assistance.
Florida Food Stamps Eligibility Guidelines
Proof of Identity – Applicants must provide proof of their identity to show that they are the person they claim to be.
Work Rules – If you are between the ages of 18-50 and are healthy, you must work at least 20 hours a week to receive Food Stamps. If you are not working or participating in a workfare program, then you can only receive Food Stamps for three months in every three year period.
Residency – The applicant must live in the state of Florida.
Citizenship – You must be a U.S. citizen or have a qualified noncitizen status to apply for Florida Food Stamps.
Social Security Number – Individuals must provide a Social Security Number or proof they have applied for one.
Child Support Requirement: You may be required to cooperate with the state in establishing paternity and providing child support.
Income and Deductions – Under federal rules, to be eligible for Food Assistance, a household’s income and resources must meet three tests:
- Its gross monthly income — that is, its income before any of the program’s deductions are applied — generally must be at or below 130 percent of the poverty line. For a family of three, the poverty line in federal fiscal year 2014 is $1,628 a month. Thus, 130 percent of the poverty line for a three-person family is $2,116 a month, or about $25,400 a year. The poverty level is higher for bigger families and lower for smaller families.
- Its net income, or income after deductions are applied, must be at or below the poverty line.
- Its assets must fall below certain limits: households without an elderly or disabled member must have assets of $2,000 or less, and households with an elderly or disabled member must have assets of $3,250 or less.
Income is one of the most important criteria for Florida Food Stamps Eligibility. Each household that is applying for assistance must have their total monthly gross income compared to a percentage of the federal poverty level, as described above. Gross Income means a household’s total income before deductions. Deductions allowed include childcare, medical expenses and housing cost. When you subtract the deductions from the Gross income, you get the Net Income amount. The chart below shows you the Gross Income and Net Income levels required for qualification, based on the number of people in each household.
Who CANNOT Apply for Food Stamps?
You are not eligible for Florida Food Stamps if you have been convicted of drug trafficking, are running away from a felony warrant, have intentionally violated a court-ordered program, or are a student in an institution of higher education (there are exceptions if you are working, a single parent, or other special cases). Also, those who break Food Assistance Program rules on purpose and non-citizens without a qualified status are not eligible to apply.
As with every government program, there are do and don’t. That is true for the Food Assistance Program.
Foods You Can Buy With EBT Card (Food Stamps Card)
- Breads and cereals
- Fruits and vegetables
- Meats, fish, and poultry
- Dairy products
- Seeds and plants to grow and produce food for the household to eat
What you CANNOT buy with the EBT Card (Food Stamps Card)
- Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco
- Pet food, soaps, paper products, or household supplies
- Vitamins and other medicines
- Food that will be eaten in the store
- Hot Foods
It is very important that you only buy the foods allowed under the Food Stamp program. Engaging in any illegal use of the EBT card may cause you to lose your benefits. And once they are revoked, you will never be allowed on the program or be eligible to apply for Food Stamps again.
If you meet the Florida Food Stamps Eligibility requirements and want to apply for Food Stamps, click here.