Key Takeaways

While more common among adults over the age of 65, disability affects people of all ages and walks of life—and its impacts on their overall health and financial security can be significant. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for example, the 61 million American adults who live with disabilities are more likely to be obese, have diabetes, and suffer from heart disease than those who live without them.1 And as many as one in three disabled adults between the ages of 18-44 have unmet healthcare needs because of cost.

If you live with a disability—or if someone else in your household does—you may have first-hand experience with some of these challenges. You may also have wondered, “Do SSDI recipients get food stamps?” Quite often, the answer is yes.

What are the guidelines for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)?

Each year, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps millions of families and adults across the U.S. buy the nutritious food they need to stay healthy on a budget. To be eligible and apply for SNAP benefits, you must meet specific resource and income limits that are set and managed by the state in which you live.

Most SNAP guidelines apply to all households. However, the program also includes special eligibility rules for disabled individuals, regardless of their age.

This means it’s possible to qualify for and receive SNAP benefits while you also collect Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. 

How does SNAP define a person that's disabled?

Under SNAP rules, you are considered disabled if you meet any one of the following criteria:

  • You receive federal disability or blindness payments under the Social Security Act, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security disability or blindness payments; or
  • You receive state disability or blindness payments based on SSI rules; or
  • You receive a disability retirement benefit from a governmental agency because of a permanent disability; or
  • You receive an annuity under the Railroad Retirement Act and are eligible for Medicare or are considered disabled under SSI; or
  • You are a veteran who is totally disabled, permanently homebound, or in need of regular aid and attendance; or
  • You are the surviving spouse or child of a veteran who is receiving VA benefits and is considered permanently disabled.

What are the SNAP income limits for disabled individuals in 2022?

If you’re disabled and want to apply for SNAP, your household generally must meet the following two conditions:

If you live alone, this means your net income can be $1,074 or less. For a two-person household, it’s $1,452.

However—and this is important—if you live in a household where every member receives SSI benefits, you may “categorically” qualify for SNAP without having to meet the net income test.

Does SNAP count SSDI as income?

Yes. When you apply for SNAP, all your earned income (such as employment wages) and your unearned income (including SSDI benefits) counts.

But don’t let that discourage you. Under the SNAP excess medical expense deduction provision, you may use unreimbursed out-of-pocket medical expenses to help you pass the net income test and qualify for SNAP assistance. Depending on your situation, this deduction can be significant. It may even lead to a higher SNAP benefit.

Why should I get SNAP if I’m on disability?

A healthy diet can help combat obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions that disproportionately affect people living with disabilities. But it can be hard to afford nutritious food if your employment is limited or you’re on a fixed income. SNAP can help you increase your purchasing power.

Your SNAP benefits can be used for fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, dairy products, non-alcoholic beverages, and other qualifying purchases at participating retailers including supermarkets, convenience stores, and even some farmers’ markets.

Consider that the average monthly SNAP benefit for a non-elderly disabled, single-person household is $107.2 In households with one or more elderly disabled adults, the average per-person monthly SNAP benefit is $95. And sixty-seven percent of the time, non-elderly disabled adults who participate in SNAP also receive SSI benefits. With SNAP, you can take advantage of additional financial assistance that can make a real difference to your health and budget—just like Mr. and Mrs. White in Connecticut do.

“I’m in a wheelchair and cannot cook,” says Mrs. White, 74. “When my husband became seriously ill, I didn’t know how we would afford to put food on the table."

With help from our area Agency on Aging, I was able to apply and qualify for SNAP assistance and the extra money that goes on our benefits card each month makes a real difference.”

 

I’m ready. How do I apply for SNAP?

Each state designs its own SNAP application process, so your first step is to check with your local SNAP office. While some states provide online SNAP applications, not all do; you may have to apply by regular mail or over the phone. And before you begin filling out the forms, you’ll need to have information about your annual net income, household size, and “countable assets” close at hand.

This may sound overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’d like assistance navigating the process, we’re here to help. Visit BenefitsCheckUp.org for all the information you need. See if you’re eligible for SNAP benefits using our secure, confidential screening tool.

Our SNAP map can help you find your program’s website, application, eligibility criteria, contact information, and more. And when it’s time to apply, you can do it yourself—or find someone to walk you through the SNAP application process step by step.

Sources

1. CDC's Disability Impacts All of Us, found on the internet at https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/infographic-disability-impacts-all.html

2. Characteristics of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Households: Fiscal Year 2019, found on the internet at https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/resource-files/Characteristics2019.pdf (p.37)