Food Stamp Budget – Research

How much would a single person living in California get in food stamps? Who is eligible for this government assistance and how does the process work? My next task was to find out the ground rules.

First, I logged onto my computer and googled “Food Stamps” “eligibility” and “California”. Although I used my home computer and internet for this research it’s worth pointing out that the public library offers free internet to users.

This is the California website on Food Stamps: http://www.dss.cahwnet.gov/foodstamps/PG841.htm

Eligibility Test #1
The gross income allowed for eligibility is 130% of the Federal Poverty Level which begs the question, what is the Federal Poverty Level? The FPL is calculated based on family size and the eligible income for a family of one is $10,400/year.

So for a single person the gross income limit would be $13,520/year (10,400 * 1.3)

For the sake of this experiment I will assume a yearly income of $13,500

Test #2
The state then deducts and grants allowances for a variety of expenses and the resulting amount cannot exceed 100% of the Federal Poverty Level.

Examples
Take a deduction of 20% for earned income–all wages, salaries, and striker’s benefits.
$13,500 * 20% = $2,700 this would presumably cover taxes, health care premiums, tool repayments, etc
Adjusted income: $10,800

There is a standard deduction of $134 for households with 1 – 3 members.
$10,800 – $167 = $10,666 to cover basic living necessities although $134 for the year translates to less than $12 a month.
Adjusted income: $10,666

One last example, if utilities are assessed separate from rent/mortgage allowance of up to $274.
$10,666 – $274 = $10,392
Adjusted income: $10,392 which is just $8 under the Federal Poverty Level

Other Rules:
Resource limitations state that the applicant cannot own more than $2,000 in resources that can be sold for financial assistance (excepting families where one or more members has a disability or is 60 years of age or older).

Able-bodied applicants between 18 and 49 without dependents must work 20 hours per week or do workfare or else are limited to 3 months of food stamps in a 36 month period (3 years).

For this exercise I’ll assume minimum wage earnings in California ($8.00/hr).
To be eligible for the gross income a yearly income of $13,500 or $1,125 a month is the highest allowable salary. Broken down weekly it’s $259.62 and at $8/hour that’s 32.46 hours per week

Minimum working hours per week is 20, but the initial calculations were done on the $13,500 so I’ll stick with an average 32 hours a week which translates to four 8 hour shifts or seven 5-hour shifts.

Unless I want to use the government assistance calculator and plug in a dozen or more variables it’s hard to know how much a single person on this salary would get in food stamps.

But according to http://www.ehsd.org/adult/adult009.html the maximum is $152 for one person per month.

So that will be the budget: $152 for the month of June without using any food from my pantry.

Now most of the literature points to the average as closer to $1 per meal or $3 a day translating to $90 a month. I’m confident that once I get enough pantry stock $90 will be achievable.

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