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Food Stamps

What Are Food Stamps?

Food stamps are coupons used like money to buy food or seeds and plants to grow food for home use. They cannot be used for non-food items such as soap, pet food, tobacco, paper products and alcoholic beverages.

What Determines Eligibility?


A household is defined as one person or a group of people who live together and customarily buy and prepare their food together.


Special income rules apply for households with anyone 60 years or older or receiving SSD or SSI or is a disabled veteran or a disabled surviving spouse or child of a veteran.

Income is all money received or expected to be received by all household members (17 or below exempt).

Total countable income within a set limit for a household's size is used to determine eligibility for food stamps.

For these households, monthly income, less one or more of five allowable deductions, is used to determine eligibility for food stamps. If this amount is within a set limit for a household's size, it may be able to get food stamps. This same amount is used to determine the value of the stamps it may get.

Allowable deductions are:

  • standard deductions = 134.00 and/or
  • 20% deduction from any earned income
  • deduction for any dependent care up to a set amount
  • deduction for monthly medical expenses of more than $35
  • deduction for shelter expenses that are more than half of household income after all other deductions are subtracted

[State and local energy assistance is included in determining income.]


Assets are any household money (cash, checking and savings account, etc), property and vehicles. They DO NOT include the household home and goods, personal belongings, income producing property, life insurance, a vehicle necessary for transportation ($4,650 a year) of physically-disabled household member, and one burial plot for each household member.

Households with at least one member age 60 or older may have up to $3,000.


The food stamp calculator from can help estimate the amount of food stamps your household may be eligible for in a given month.

How do I Apply for Food Stamps?

It's quite simple. Just contact the local Family Independence Agency Office ("FIA") for an application form. There is an FIA office in each county. You must complete and sign an application. You may authorize someone to sign for you. You or your representative may be asked to come to the local office. Tell the worker if you need help with filling out the application.

Below is a list of the things FIA will need you to bring to the office for them to determine your eligibility:

  • Social Security cards for all household members.
  • Driver's licenses for all members age 18 or older.
  • Verification of your income; such as check stubs, award letter, statement from employer, etc.
  • Verification of assets; such as savings passbooks, current checking account statements, current credit union statements, car titles and payment books, etc.
  • Verification of household expenses for rent, house payment, property taxes, house insurance, heat, electric, etc.
This information is not a substitute for legal advice. If you need legal advice, see a lawyer.

If you fee you are being harassed, call a lawyer or your legal aid office.

Legal services of Northern Michigan can provide legal assistance to low-income persons in civil matters.

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