If you are struggling to meet your basic food and nutrition needs, there is help available to you. The Pennsylvania Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides food assistance help to eligible low-income households. If you want to know if you qualify for food stamp benefits in Pennsylvania, this article will provide you with the Pennsylvania Food Stamps Eligibility Guidelines for fiscal year 2022.
This article will cover:
- Pennsylvania Food Stamps Eligibility Requirements
- PA Food Stamps Gross and Net Income Limit
- How to Calculate Gross and Net Income for Food Stamps
- How Much You Could Receive in PA Food Stamps
- Pennsylvania SNAP Work Requirements
- How to Apply for Pennsylvania Food Stamps
Food Stamps in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Food Assistance Program provides monthly benefits to low-income households struggling to meet their nutritional needs. PA food stamp 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 PA EBT card is loaded monthly with the money your household qualifies for. You can use your PA EBT ACCESS Card to purchase food at grocery and other approved store locations.
The amount of food stamp benefits a household gets depends 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 Pennsylvania 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 eligibility guidelines for Pennsylvania food stamps.
Pennsylvania Food Stamps Eligibility Guidelines
To be eligible for the Pennsylvania Food Stamp Program, you have to meet the eligibility requirements established by the USDA.
In order to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) you must first meet a certain criteria.
Do I qualify for Pennsylvania Food Stamps?
To qualify for the Pennsylvania Food Stamps and EBT Card benefits, you must:
- Be a U.S. Citizen or Legal Non-Citizen
- Live in the state of Pennsylvania
- Meet the SNAP Income Limit
In addition to the eligibility requirements listed above, your household must also meet the three income and resources tests.
Income is the most important requirement when it comes to qualifying for Pennsylvania food stamps.
The three tests include your household’s gross monthly income, net income, and assets.
Gross Monthly Income — is your household’s total income before any deductions. This includes money earned from work and other assistance such as unemployment, Social Security and child support.
Net Income — is your household’s total income after all allowable deductions.
Assets — is your household’s total resources that are considered available to purchase food, such as bank accounts and cash.
To learn more about each of the three SNAP eligibility tests including how to calculate them for your household, continue reading below.
Pennsylvania Food Stamp Requirements for 2022
To help determine if you are eligible for Food Stamps in Pennsylvania, we breakdown each of the three SNAP eligibility tests for you below.
Test 1 – Gross Income Test
The first test you must meet is the gross monthly income test. This is a household’s income before any allowable deductions are applied.
The USDA requires that a household’s income must be at or below 130 percent of the poverty line.
In fiscal year 2022, the poverty line amount for an individual is $1,073. Therefore for food stamps application, 130 percent of that level is $1,396. An individual applying for food stamps must, therefore, have a gross monthly income of $1,396 or below to qualify.
For a family of three, the poverty line is $1,830 a month. Therefore, 130 percent of that is $2,379 a month, or about $28,550 a year. The poverty level is higher for bigger families and lower for smaller families.
How to Calculate Gross Income
Use the example provided below to help you calculate your household’s gross monthly income.
|How to Calculate Gross Income for Food Stamps|
|Gross Income Calculation:||Example:|
|Determine household size . . .||4 people with no elderly or disabled members.|
|Add gross monthly income . . .||$1,500 earned income + $550 social security = $2,050 gross income.|
|If gross monthly income is less than the limit for household size, determine net income.||$2,050 is less than the $2,871 allowed for a 4-person household, so determine net income.|
PA SNAP Gross Income Limit for 2022
Once you have calculated your household’s gross income, use the chart below to determine if it meets the income limit for Pennsylvania food stamp benefits.
|Pennsylvania SNAP Income Eligibility Standards for Fiscal Year 2022|
|Effective October 1, 2021 – September 30, 2022|
|Household Size||Monthly Gross Income (130% of Federal Poverty Level)|
|Each Additional Household Member:||+$492|
Test 2 – Net Income Test
The Net Income, or household income after deductions are applied, must be at or below the poverty line for your household size.
To find out how to calculate your net income with the allowable deductions, continue reading below.
PA Food Stamps Allowable Deductions
Certain deductions are allowable to be taken from the gross income to arrive at the net income amount.
The following deductions are allowed for all households depending on the living situation and expenses:
- 20 percent deduction from earned income to account for work-related expenses and payroll taxes.
- A standard deduction based on household size (see below) to account for basic unavoidable costs.
- Dependent care deduction for out-of-pocket child care or when needed for work, training, or education.
- Child support deduction for any legally obligated child support that a member of the household pays.
- Medical expense deduction for elderly or disabled household members that have incurred out-of-pocket medical expenses greater than $35 a month.
- Homeless household shelter deduction of $159.73.
- Excess shelter deduction for households with a shelter cost that exceed more than half of the household’s income. This deduction is uncapped for households with an elderly or disabled member. However, for all other households, this deduction is capped at $597 per month.
Once you have subtracted all eligible deductions from your household gross income, this will give you your monthly net income.
SNAP Standard Deduction
The food stamps standard deduction varies based on your household size and location. Please use the chart provided below to find the standard deduction amount for your household.
|SNAP Standard Deductions for Fiscal Year 2022|
|Effective October 1, 2021 – September 30, 2022|
|Household Size||Standard Deduction|
|48 States & D.C.||Alaska||Guam||Hawaii||Virgin Islands|
How to Calculate Net Income
Use the example provided below to help you calculate your household’s net monthly income based on 4-person household with a $2,050 gross income.
|How to Calculate SNAP Net Income|
|Net Income Calculation:||Example for a 4-person household:|
|Subtract 20% earned income deduction…||$2,050 gross income
$1,500 earned income x 20% = $300. $2,050 – $300 = $1,750
|Subtract standard deduction…||$1,750 – $184 standard deduction for a 4-person household = $1,566|
|Subtract dependent care deduction…||$1,569 – $362 dependent care = $1,204|
|Subtract child support deduction…||$0|
|Subtract medical costs over $35 for elderly and disabled…||$0|
|Excess shelter deduction…||See below|
|Determine half of adjusted income…||$1,204 adjusted income/2 = $602|
|Determine if shelter costs are more than half of adjusted income…||$700 total shelter – $602 (half of income) = $98 excess shelter cost|
|Subtract excess amount, but not more than the limit, from adjusted income…||$1,204 – $98 = $1,106 net monthly income|
|Apply the net income test…||Since $1,106 is less than $2,209 allowed for a 4-person household, this household has met the income test.|
What Counts As Income?
For your SNAP application, cash from all sources will count towards your income limit including:
- Earned income (before payroll taxes are deducted)
- Unearned income, such as cash assistance, Social Security, unemployment insurance, and child support are all counted towards your income for food stamps purposes.
SNAP Net Income Limit for 2022
Once you have calculated your household’s net income, use the chart below to determine if your household meets the PA food stamps income limit for 2022.
|SNAP Income Eligibility Standards for Fiscal Year 2022|
|Effective October 1, 2021 – September 30, 2022|
|Household Size||Monthly Net Income (100% of Federal Poverty Level)|
|Each Additional Household Member:||+$379|
For more information on the Pennsylvania Food Stamps income requirements, check out out complete article on the Pennsylvania SNAP Income Limits for 2022.
Test 3 – Assets Test
The final test to determine if you’re eligible for food stamp benefits is the assets test. This test determines if your total household assets fall below the acceptable limit.
Households with a member who is elderly (age 60 or older) or disabled, must have assets or countable resources of $3,750 or less.
Households without an elderly or disabled member, must have assets of $2,500 or less.
What counts as an Asset?
For your application, resources that could be available to the household to purchase food are counted towards your asset limit.
- Bank accounts
- Real estate other than your home
- Income you earn from assets (like interest earned on savings and dividends you receive).
What doesn’t count as an asset?
Certain items do not count as an asset. These are typically resources that are not accessible, such as the household’s home, personal property, and retirement savings*.
*Please note that withdrawals from these accounts may count as either income or resources depending on how often they occur.
Additionally, most automobiles do not count as an asset. However, there are special rules around vehicles. To learn more about this, continue reading below.
Do vehicles count towards as an asset for Food Stamps?
While most vehicles do not count towards the food stamps resources limit, this varies based on the state you live in.
In Pennsylvania, the state is responsible for determining how vehicles count towards the household resource limit.
Licensed vehicles are NOT counted if they are:
- Used for income-producing purposes (e.g., taxi, truck or delivery vehicle)
- Annually producing income consistent with their fair market value
- Needed for long distance travel for work (other than daily commute)
- Used as the home
- Needed to transport a physically disabled household member
- Needed to carry most of the household’s fuel or water
- If the sale of the vehicle would result in less than $1,500.
For non-excluded licensed vehicles with a fair market value over $4,650, they will count as a resource.
In addition, licensed vehicles are also subject to an equity test, which is the fair market value less any amount owed on the vehicle.
The following vehicles are excluded from the equity test:
- One vehicle per adult household member.
- Any other vehicle used by a household member under 18 to drive to work, school, job training, or to look for work.
- For vehicles with both a fair market value over $4,650 and an equity value, the greater of the two amounts is counted as a resource.
Additionally, the equity value of unlicensed vehicles generally counts as a resource, with some exceptions.
Who is not eligible for Food Stamps in Pennsylvania?
Some Pennsylvania households may not be eligible for SNAP benefits regardless of their income or assets. These people include:
- All unauthorized immigrants
- Students attending college more than half time
- Lawfully present immigrants
- Individuals who are on strike
Unemployed adults without children in the home who do not have disabilities are limited to three months of SNAP benefits every three years in many areas of the country, and states have broad authority to extend work requirements to many other SNAP households.
For more information on this, please refer to the PA Food Stamps Work Requirements listed below.
PA Food Stamps Work Requirements
If you Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependents (ABAWD) – meaning you are an individual age 18 through 49 who does not live with a child under 18 and is fit for work – then you must comply with the work requirements to continue receiving food stamps.
The rules state that ABAWDs can only get food stamp benefits for 3 months in 3 years unless they meet certain special work requirements or are excused.
However, there are exceptions to the 3-month limit. If you are an ABAWD, you may be exempted from the time limit work requirements if you:
- Work an average of at least 20 hours per week each month in unsubsidized
- Participate 20 hours per week in an approved employment and training program; or
- Participate in community service by volunteering at a nonprofit organization.
You may be exempt from meeting work requirements if you meet any of the following
- Are physically or mentally unable to work 20 hours a week.
- Receive Retirement, Survivors and Disability Insurance due to disability or blindness, or receives Supplemental Security Income or State Disability Assistance.
- Receive or are an applicant for unemployment benefits.
- Participate in a drug or alcohol treatment and rehabilitation program.
- Attend training or college at least half-time and meet the student eligibility criteria to receive food assistance.
- Care for an incapacitated person or a child under age 6.
- Are pregnant.
- Are a victim of domestic violence.
- Reside in a household with a child under age 18.
To learn more about the work requirements for Pennsylvania food stamps, check out the USDA Work Requirements page for more information.
How much will I receive in Pennsylvania Food Stamps?
The amount of Pennsylvania food stamp benefits you will receive depends on your household income and size.
The table below shows the maximum amount you could receive depending on the number of people in your household.
|Maximum Pennsylvania SNAP Benefit Amount by Household Size for 2022|
|Effective October 1, 2021 – September 30, 2022|
|Household Size:||Maximum SNAP Benefit Allotment:|
|Each Additional Household Member:||+$188|
To find out exactly how much you can expect to receive in Pennsylvania food stamps each month, check out our PA Food Stamps Calculator.
Apply for Pennsylvania Food Stamps & EBT Card Benefits
There are three ways you can apply for food stamps in Pennsylvania – online, in-person, and by mail or fax.
For help submitting your Pennsylvania SNAP Application, follow the step-by-step instructions provided below.
Pennsylvania Food Stamps Application Guide
Here are the three ways you can apply for Pennsylvania food stamps:
Option 1: Online – PA COMPASS
The first option is to apply online using the PA My Compass online portal. You can access the Pennsylvania Compass online portal at www.compass.state.pa.us.
If this is your first time using PA MyCompass, you will first have to create an online account.
For step-by-step instructions, read our article on how to create a MyCompass PA Online Account.
Setting up an online My Compass PA account is quick, easy, and should only take a few minutes.
Once you have created your account, you can apply for PA food stamps online by submitting your SNAP Application.
Option 2: In-Person at PA DHS Center
You can also apply for benefits in person at your local county Department of Human Services (DHS) office location. Click here for a full list of PA DHS Office Locations.
Option 3: Mail or Fax
The last option is to download a paper PA SNAP Application and mail or fax it in.
To complete a paper PA SNAP Application, click here to download Pennsylvania Food Stamps Application.
Once completed, mail the application to your local county Department of Human Services (DHS) Office.
To get the mailing address for the PA DHS Office near you, use our Pennsylvania SNAP Office Location finder.
In addition, you can hand-deliver your completed PA SNAP Application to your local DHS office or fax it.
To locate the proper fax number for your county assistance office, click here.
Food Stamp Guides by County:
- Allegheny County SNAP Guide
- Delaware County SNAP Guide
- Montgomery County SNAP Guide
- Philadelphia SNAP Guide
Documents You Need to Apply for PA Food Stamps
To successfully submit your PA SNAP Application, it’s important that you gather all the necessary documents needed to apply for food stamps in Pennsylvania.
Here is a list of information and documentation you will need to apply for Pennsylvania Food Stamps:
- Citizenship verification (Social Security Number)
- Government-issued ID for proof of identity, date of birth and state residency
- Proof of Income (W-2 or paystubs)
- Proof of Expenses (utility bills, etc.)
- Disability Approval Letter (if applicable)
- Alien or Citizenship Documentation
For proof of citizenship, you will need to present one of the following documents:
- Birth certificate
- Military service records
- US Passport
- Naturalization Certificate
- Permanent resident card/Green card
After you Apply for PA Food Stamps
After you apply for food stamps Pennsylvania, you must complete an interview with a representative at your local county PA DHS Office.
Your interview may be over the phone or face-to-face. You will receive a letter in the mail with more information regarding your food stamps interview.
If you are elderly or physically unable to travel for a face-to-face interview, you can apply for a waiver, which is granted on a case by case basis based on hardship.
If your waiver request is granted, the face-to-face interview will be replaced with a phone interview.
During the interview, you will be required to provide verification of your income and expenses.
How long will it take to receive Pennsylvania Food Stamp benefits?
If your Pennsylvania SNAP Application is approved, you will start receiving benefits no later than 30 days from the date you submit your application.
In addition, once you are approved for Pennsylvania food stamp benefits, you will receive a PA EBT ACCESS Card in the mail. An EBT Card, also known as an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Card is similar to a bank debit card.
Your Pennsylvania EBT Card will be used to access your monthly food stamp benefits at grocery stores and online retailers. To learn more about the Pennsylvania EBT Card, check out our PA EBT FAQ Page here.
How Long Can I Be on PA Food Stamps?
There are no limits to how long you can get food stamps if you have children/dependents living in your household or are under age 18 or over age 50.
Food You Can Buy With EBT in Pennsylvania
- Bread 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 Pennsylvania EBT
- 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.
Additionally, once your benefits are revoked, you will never be allowed on the program or be eligible for food stamps again.
Pennsylvania Emergency Food Help
If you are facing a life-threatening situation and need immediate help with food, there is assistance available to you. The Emergency Food Assistance Program provides Pennsylvania residents with immediate access to nutritious meals.
There is immediate help available at participating Pennsylvania food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens and other feeding sites.
To learn more and find out how to get help now, find a local Pennsylvania food bank near you.
PA Food Stamps Help – Customer Service Phone Number
For more help with your Pennsylvania food stamps eligibility or application, contact your local county assistance office (PA DHS).
You can also call the Pennsylvania SNAP Customer Service Center at 1-877-395-8930.
If you are located in Philadelphia, please call 1-215-560-7226.
Customer Service representatives are available to help you Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
If you are hearing impaired or deaf, please contact TDD Services by calling PA Relay Services at 711.
Pennsylvania Food Stamps Eligibility Questions
We hope this article on the Pennsylvania Food Stamps Eligibility Requirements for 2022 was helpful to you!
If you have additional questions about how to qualify for food stamp benefits in Pennsylvania or submit your SNAP application, please let us know in the comments section below. We are happy to help answer any additional questions you have.
In the meantime, check out our other articles on Pennsylvania food stamps:
Pennsylvania Food Stamps Income Limit for 2022
PA Food Stamps Calculator (2022 Guide)
PA EBT Card Balance and Login
Pennsylvania EBT Deposit Schedule for 2022
2022 Pennsylvania Food Stamps Increase
Pennsylvania Food Stamps FAQs