Federal law limits eligibility for food stamps to individuals earning less than 130 percent of the federal poverty level – roughly $32,000 per year (or roughly $2,600 per month) for a family of four. In recent years, several states have used eligibility loopholes to expand eligibility beyond the federal standard. In some states, individuals can still qualify for food stamps even if they are earning as much as twice the federal poverty level – roughly $49,000 per year for a family of four. To put this in perspective, this is four times what a typical family can earn and still receive welfare cash assistance through TANF.
Nationally, between 2 and 3 million individuals are receiving food stamps despite having income higher than the standard set by federal law. If all states checked adjusted income eligibility to the federal limits, taxpayers would save up to $1.3 billion per year in food stamp benefits.