Do I qualify for benefits? Start by looking at gross income.


The process of qualifying for FNS/SNAP benefits begins by looking at your household’s income – more specifically, your household’s gross income.

What is gross income?

Gross income is the sum of all of the income coming into your home – it includes all earned income from working, before any deductions are taken out; and, it includes all unearned income from non-working sources (such as Social Security) along with interest and dividends earned on financial accounts.

What’s new?

In July 2010, North Carolina raised the gross income limit for most households – it’s now about 1.5 times higher!  When you click on the income table below, the old limit is shown in the third column labeled with 130%; and, the current, higher limit in shown in the second column labeled with 200%.

How do I read the income table (see below)?

To figure out the allowable maximum gross income for your household: 1) Look at the first column “# of People in Household” to find your household size, then 2) Read across to the second column “Maximum Gross Income – 200%” to see the maximum gross income.

What if my income is different from month to month?

Your Department of Social Services (DSS) has several ways to calculate your household’s income if it varies from month to month.  So if your income varies and is close to the 200% dollar amount – either slightly above or slightly below – be sure to check with DSS.

How else can DSS help?

The income table is only a starting point!  A DSS caseworker also takes into account who eats meals together, if someone in your home is disabled, or if someone in your home is age 60 or older – these could change your eligibility.

So, why apply?  If you qualify, but don’t apply, you’re missing out on benefits.  And, if you don’t qualify, you’ll know exactly why, so if your circumstances change you’ll know to reapply.  It’s a win-win situation!   If you currently have FNS/SNAP benefits, but wished that you had applied sooner, please share your story.

Thanks to 401K (Flickr) for the $100 photo on the home page

Click on the image below to enlarge:

Income table for NC FNS/SNAP benefits showing gross income, net income and maximum benefit amounts