Eligibility for Pennsylvania Food Stamps


Food stamps requirements in Pennsylvania are important for any applying household to understand. The state’s requirements for food stamps applicants limit the pool of recipients to specific populations. To qualify for food assistance, you must earn less than a certain income threshold and meet citizenship status requirements. There are also other requirements for SNAP applicants to meet including work requirements. On this page, you will learn how to determine whether you are eligible for food stamps in Pennsylvania and the type of person who is not eligible for benefits.

Pennsylvania Food Stamps Eligibility Requirements for Income and Citizenship

Families wondering how to qualify for food stamps in Pennsylvania will need to examine their income and citizenship status. There are income limits for food stamps recipients in the state. You must ensure that your household income is not over the limit for eligibility. However, food stamps income guidelines dictate that you may have income deductions based on your housing and childcare cost as well as certain medical expenses for elderly or disabled people in your household. If, after all calculations, you fall within the income guidelines for food stamps, then you may be eligible for benefits. Download our free and comprehensive guide to read about the full income limits for food stamps eligibility.

Before filling out a food assistance application, you should also ensure that you and everyone in your household meets Pennsylvania’s SNAP citizenship requirements. You qualify for food stamps if you are a citizen of the U.S. and meet all other qualifications. However, you may also qualify for food assistance as a noncitizen if you meet the SNAP requirements for noncitizens. Outside of these excepted noncitizens for food stamps eligibility, non-citizens must meet more stringent requirements. For example, noncitizens are only eligible for food stamps if they meet a certain category (such as legal permanent residents or refugees) and also must meet complementary requirements (such as being a victim of severe human trafficking or having their deportation withheld). The full list of citizenship requirements and exceptions is extensive, and it is a good idea to become familiar with some of them.

Other Pennsylvania Food Stamps Eligibility Requirements

There are more requirements for food stamps in Pennsylvania beyond the income and citizenship requirements. One of the often-overlooked food stamps requirements is that you must be eligible to apply in the first place. You may only apply for food stamps in the state of Pennsylvania in the following cases:

  • If you are the head of your household
  • If you are the spouse of the head of your household
  • If you are another household member who is considered responsible
  • If you are an authorized representative (AR) designated by the household as someone who will buy food for the household (this does not have to be someone in your family or someone who lives with you)

Food stamp requirements state that your household is whoever you lives with you and regularly shares meals together. You may not all qualify for food stamps together if you live together but do not regularly buy and share meals together. In this case, you should apply as separate households. Learn more about applying for SNAP benefits successfully by downloading our detailed guide.

There are also food stamp eligibility requirements related to your work, in some cases. To qualify for SNAP benefits as an able-bodied adult without dependents (ABAWD), you must continue working to remain eligible. To remain eligible for food stamps as an ABAWD, you must work a certain amount of hours each month, join a Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act program or other approved employment training program or participate in some other approved work program for a minimum number of hours a week. If you do not meet these food stamps requirements, then your SNAP benefits will be greatly limited if they are issued at all.

Residents Who Do Not Meet Pennsylvania Requirements for Food Stamps

The food assistance application in Pennsylvania is not available for all residents to fill out. The application for SNAP is not available to those who are currently incarcerated, for example. Able-bodied adults without dependents who do not meet work requirements are not eligible for food assistance. Neither are any households with incomes higher than the threshold. In some cases, an individual member may not meet food stamps requirements even if the household qualifies as a whole. In this case, the household member will not be factored into the household size for SNAP eligibility, which may lower the amount of SNAP benefits. However, this household member’s income and resources will still be factored into the calculations of the Department of Human Services. There are many other types of persons who are ineligible for food stamps, including persons who do not give the CAO a Social Security Number, noncitizens who do not meet eligibility requirements and persons who violate probation or parole under state or federal law.

What Is the Division of Family and Children Services in Pennsylvania?

The state of Pennsylvania provides services for families and children who are most in need. The division provides resources for free and reduced lunch, food stamps and temporary cash assistance for needy families. To find out if you are eligible for these services, download our comprehensive guide to review the eligibility requirements for each program.

How Can I Apply for Assistance Through the Division of Family and Children Services?

In order to be considered for the benefit programs offered by the Division of Family and Children Services, you must submit an application via an approved method. Additionally, many of the services provided by the division have eligibility requirements that you must meet to obtain benefits. Learn all about the application processes for these programs by downloading our guide.