Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the name of the federal Food Stamp Program. Maryland uses the name "Food Supplement Program."

Many figures used to calculate Food Stamp benefits are revised annually by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the federal agency that administers the program. These figures are usually updated in the summer, and can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations, or by calling Maryland’s Food Stamps hotline 1-800-492-5515 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Maryland figures can be found in the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) 07.03.17.  Benefit amounts are also available on this website.

The value in food stamps is based on the "household" income after accounting for income (earned or unearned), any rent paid, and specific deductions such as child care and shelter expenses, up to a maximum amount. These are the figures for October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016

Household size

Maximum Monthly

Food Stamp Allotment

1 $194
2 $357
3 $511
4 $649
5 $771
6 $925
7 $1,022
8 $1,169










Eligibility is based on the "Household". The Household usually means everyone who lives, buys food, and prepares food together.

Income Eligibility:

There are both "gross income" and "net income" tests for eligibility. Gross income includes almost all types of income coming into the household before any deductions. Net income is the gross income minus specific allowable deductions. Details are on the U.S.D.A. Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) web site.

Most households must meet both gross and net income test to be eligible. There are exceptions listed below. 

  • Households with an elderly or disabled member only have to meet the net income test.
  • Persons who are considered "categorically eligible". This includes persons who receive certain types of cash benefits, such as TCA, SSI, TDAP, PAA, or families with children whose income is below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.
  • "Categorically eligible" households do not have to meet the gross and net income tests.  Regardless of income, categorically eligible households are entitled to at least the minimum Food Supplement Program benefit. Currently, the minimum monthly benefit is $16.

All other households must meet both the gross income and the net income tests.

Food Stamp Income Limits for October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016

Household Size Gross Income Limit Net Income Limit
1 $1,276 $981
2 $1,726 $1,328
3 $2,177 $1,675
4 $2,628 $2,021
5 $3,078 $2,368
6 $3,529 $2,715
7 $3,980 $3,061
8 $4,430 $3,408
Each additional person +$451 +$347
The following can be deducted from your household monthly income:
1. standard deduction ($155 for households of 1-3 persons, $168 for a household of 4 persons, $197 for a household of 5 persons, and $226 for a household of 6 or more persons). 
2. 20 percent of earned income;
3. actual costs of dependent care for children and disabled adults if this care is needed so that a household member can work, look for a job, or get training or education leading to a job;
4. legally owed and paid child-support payments;
5. homeless households (that incur shelter cost) allowance ($143)
6. excess shelter expenses and utility expenses;
7. telephone standard of $40;
8. medical expenses over $35 a month for household members who are age 60 or older or receiving certain disability payments.
Persons 60 and over (and their spouses) who are unable to purchase and prepare their own meals due to disability, and who live and eat with others in a household whose gross monthly combined income does not exceed 165% of the poverty level, may be considered a separate household.
Asset Eligibility:

Countable resources no greater than $2,000; if your household includes a member who is 60 or older, your asset limit is $3,250. 

Not counted:

  • The home and the lot on which the home sits,
  • motor vehicles (automobiles, motorcycles, boats, RVs, airplanes, etc.)
  • most retirement (pension) plans
  • real property that is listed for sale,
  • assets that are "not available," that is, cannot be sold or converted to cash.

Details are on the FNS web site.

No asset test is required if your households is "categorically eligible" because you receive certain other government benefits (such as SSI). Read the Regulation: 7 CFR 273.8

Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents

As of January 1, 2016, there are new work requirements (in certain counties) for some Food Supplement Program recipients between the ages of 18 and 50 who are considered to be able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs). Many counties are exempt or waived from these requirements.

The ABAWD policy will be implemented for individuals who live in the following six counties: Anne Arundel, Baltimore County, Carroll, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.

All FSP applicants and recipients are supposed to be screened by DSS to determine if they are an ABAWD or exempt from the work rules. If an individual is deemed to be an ABAWD, they will be expected to meet certain work requirements in order to receive FSP benefits. Unless they meet the work requirements, ABAWDs can receive only 3 months of FSP benefits in a 36-month period.

For more information on the ABAWD policy, see:


Apply at:

Your local Department of Social Services. Link here to find your local DSS Office online or call 800-332-6347. 

 You can also apply online through myDHR:

  • You can appeal any denial, termination, or reduction of benefits
  • Appeals can be filed in writing at your local Department of Social Services office.  If you file it in person, ask for a copy of the appeal and a receipt showing that you filed the appeal. Here is a link to a Request for Fair Hearing Form:
  • You can also mail the form to: Office of Administrative Hearings11101 Gilroy Road, Hunt Valley, MD 21031-1301
  • If you have a disability and need DSS to accommodate you, you can request a reasonable accommodation. You can make the request in any way (such as orally or in writing). If DSS does not make a decision on your request or denies your request, you can appeal that decision. For more information visit:
  • Appeals must be filed within 90 days of the notice (if adequate) or the action taken.
  • You have the right to request that your benefits continue uninterrupted while your appeal is pending. If you file an appeal within 10 days of the date on the notice informing you that benefits are being terminated or reduced, and you ask that the benefits continue until the appeal decision is made, your benefits will continue automatically until the decision.  If you do not want benefits to continue until the decision, you must specifically request that they not continue.  If you do not appeal within 10 days, the termination or reduction will happen.
Source of Funds:

United States Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.); Information is available on the Food and Nutrition Service's web site.

Sources of Law:

Federal Law:  7 U.S.C.A. §2011 to §2036

Federal Regulations: 7 C.F.R. Parts 271 to 295; the key Parts that set out who is eligible and how the food stamp program works are Parts 273 (eligible households) and 274 (issuance and use of coupons).

Federal Policy Materials: The federal Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) publishes policy materials covering a wide range of issues.  Generally presented in a question and answer format, the memos may be of national or regional significance. 

State Law:  Md. Code, Human Services, §§5-501 to 5-504

State Law:  State Regulations: COMAR to (scroll down to "Food Stamp Program" and click it to go to the list of regulations.


Special rules apply to student applicants.  More information on students is available from the Maryland Department of Human Resources, Family Investment Administration.

Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland Thurgood Marshall State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland Thurgood Marshall State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – © Maryland Thurgood Marshall State Law Library, 2019.”