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Why Do I Only Get $16 in Food Stamps?!

Why Do I Only Get $16 in Food Stamps?!

One of the most common questions we are asked is, “Why do I only get $16 in food stamps?!” It seems like many people apply for food stamps, only to get a pitiful amount of money that barely helps at all.

If this has happened to you, then you probably have a lot of questions. Why did this happen? What are you supposed to do with $16 per month?! And what can you do to get more food stamps?!

We’ve looked into it, and we’ve found answers for all of these questions.

Why do I only get $16 in food stamps?

The short answer is that $16 is the minimum amount of food stamps that someone can receive. Fortunately we’ve found some ways to increase the amount of food stamps that you receive.

Federal law states that all one and two person households who meet the income requirements will receive a minimum benefit. According to this USDA memo, the minimum benefit was increased to $16 in 2020 for all states except Hawaii and Alaska.

Before the increase, people were constantly asking us “Why do I only get $15 in food stamps?!” The extra dollar doesn’t make a huge difference, but at least it’s an improvement.

You may be able to increase the amount.

The food stamps algorithm is complicated. It is based on your income and eligible expenses, which are counted as deductions. The amount of income you have leftover determines how much food stamps you receive. The more money is left over after eligible deductions, the less food stamps you will receive.

If you’re asking, “Why do I only get $16 in food stamps?” the answer could be a problem in the math.

Check your household size.

First of all, you may be including people in your household who should not be there. Your household doesn’t necessarily include everyone that lives with you. It includes everyone that lives with you and shares food with you. It is possible that you included more people than necessary, and that their income is reducing your food stamps allowance.

Verify your deductions.

You also may not be receiving all the deductions that you are entitled to receive. Only certain eligible expenses count as deductions.

Many people miss out on deductions that could drastically increase their food stamps budget. This is especially common for seniors and disabled people, who are eligible for the little-known medical expense deduction.

If you’re wondering “why do I only get $16 in food stamps?” you could be missing a critical deduction. For more information on how to fix this, please check out these instructions.

You may also be able to re-arrange your budget so that more of your expenses are counted as deductions. We’ve addressed that in a separate post, called, “What bills count for food stamps?”

What can you do with $16 in food stamps?

The hardest part of receiving the minimum benefit is realizing just how little you can do with it. Unfortunately, $16 just doesn’t go very far. You can buy cheap boxed pasta, a few cans of tuna, or some canned vegetables… but it just won’t go far at all.

There are a few things you can do to help make the most of your limited food stamps budget:

Buy seeds and plants for an ongoing food supply.

When people ask “Why do I only get $16 in food stamps?” they are often surprised to find out about some of the amazing things they can do with those benefits. You can use food stamps to buy seeds and produce-bearing plants, including fruit trees. If you have a place to garden, you can invest in supplies to help you grow your own food!

Shop at a discount retailer.

Discount grocers often stock items that are damaged, blemished or past their recommended dates. However, as this guide explains, best by dates aren’t always what they seem. You may be able to get a lot more for your money if you’re willing to shop at a discount grocer.

Double up at the Farmer’s Market.

If you shop at the Farmer’s Market with EBT, you may be able to get twice as much food! Many programs offer a “Double Up” program, which will give you twice the amount of produce that you pay for. Just like that, your $16 in food stamps could become $32 in delicious, farm-fresh produce!

Save it up and buy in bulk (or wait for sales).

Save up for a few months and then find great bulk deals. Many grocers have periodic lot sales, and some big retailers like Costco accept food stamps. If you save up for a few months, you may be able to make better use of your money by buying in bulk.

Just don’t wait too long! If you wait for an entire year, your food stamps case may be closed!

Enjoy 450+ freebies and deals just for having an EBT card!

You can save a lot of money just by having an EBT card. Once you discover all the amazing benefits to having an EBT card, you may entirely forget to worry about things like “Why do I only get $16 in food stamps?”

Just by having an EBT card, you can get discounts on everything from Amazon Prime to zoo admission. We’ve got a comprehensive list of state-by-state discounts and deals right here!

senior wonders "why do I only get $16 in food stamps?"

Do you have more questions like “Why do I only get $16 in food stamps?”

We write extensively about food stamps topics. If you have more food stamps questions, be sure to check out these helpful posts!

I hope this helps! If you have any additional questions, please leave a comment below!

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Nicole leads the Low Income Relief team with over 20 years of professional research and writing experience. Nicole started Low Income Relief after a personal experience with poverty. When her husband was medically discharged from the US Army, their family experienced tremendous financial hardship. Nicole was able to gather help from multiple community agencies and move into a nearby low income housing unit in just two weeks! Since then, Nicole has been dedicated to helping low income families in crisis. She regularly spends hundreds of hours combing through countless resources to make sure that Low Income Relief has the most comprehensive and complete resource directories on the internet today. Prior to starting Low Income Relief, Nicole worked as a novelist, journalist, ghostwriter and content creator. Her work has been featured in various print and online publications, including USA Today, eHow, Livestrong, Legal Beagle, The Daily Herald, The Chronicle and more.

Aisha Martin

Tuesday 5th of July 2022

Very positive takeaway from your article. Nichole, you do an awesome job! This is a MUCH NEEDED site with desperately needed information! Thank you so much!

Catherine Marucci

Saturday 9th of July 2022

<3 It's always nice to hear that the work we do is helpful!


Friday 11th of March 2022

I got my Calfresh today & my account only says $40. Is that ALL I’m getting. I have Autism & I love with my great grandma whose about to turn 86. The Calfresh allotment says $0.00🤔 Not sure what’s going on. But we can’t live on $40 a month.


Thursday 31st of March 2022

Information on this should be in the article above. Chat with Lira, she might be able to help!

Jacquline Carter

Tuesday 11th of January 2022

I had applied for food stamps in September of 2019 I where getting $194 for family of two that’s me and my 34 year old handicapped son when he got his raise on his ssI for 2020 we start receiving $184. I’m disabled myself when I start receiving ssI in March 2020. That’s when I received a letter saying that me and my son will get$16 in stamps. At that time ssI $784 and than $794 when I started receiving ssI benefits of $794 bothe income calculated together $1,588 I don’t pay rent I have utilities I pay his that calculated I’m the budget my son wear diapers I buy those under bed pads when make grocery I buy organic brand or plant base meat it’s expensive eating healthy what the hell I’m going to do with now it’s $20.00 in stamps high as food a loaf of bread bread and bologna cause that which I don’t buy! I don’t eat pork are red meat I make sure my son has everything he needs! So how is that income calculated with family of two still get food but only $20.00


Thursday 3rd of February 2022

The organizations in our list should be able to help you with this, but unfortunately Low Income Relief does not provide gifts, food or funds directly. You will need to contact the organizations in this list for assistance or chat with Lira! She should be able to help,


Wednesday 22nd of December 2021

I've seriously been going insane since I moved to Florida trying to figure out why the EBT payment is low compared to when I lived in Michigan or New York. While I'm not getting as low as $16 (except when I was, of course, getting 0, because they counted the Economic Impact Payments against me erroneously and also removed my SSI, thaaaanks that was a great 3~ months of $0) (never found anyone talking about that either, seriously? was I the only one? can't be!).

Anyway I'm on SSI and as far as I can tell nothing should be reducing my EBT. SSI doesn't count against EBT, right? But I'm only getting $86 per month. Nowhere can I find how or why they came up with this amount. One of my friends in another state also used to get this amount but now he randomly gets $345 per month, for just himself, SURELY that's above the maximum amount? Even with whatever extra covid nonsense they might be doing? I don't... understand. I feel like they're still counting some extra money that had been in my account before from the EIPs. When I talk to them they just tell me that there are no reductions and I'm getting the highest amount that I can. But they give me no information about how it was calculated or anything, which I used to get a full explanation of in other states.

Just had to rant somewhere. I just got another email from them and it sent me into stressed out mode thinking about how I should try calling AGAIN but there's been no luck trying before, and phones are terrifying.


Monday 17th of January 2022

Low Income Relief is an information service and does not provide cash or items directly. You will need to search our website for information about organizations that can help you meet those needs. Chat with Lira, she might be able to help!

Rhoda Thompson

Monday 23rd of November 2020

I make $1100.00 per month before taxes, I pay rent and utilities along with car insurance which is mandatory $150.00, why does the government think you not supposed to have anything else. I buy a pair of shoes every 2 years as with clothes food tax is 10% what am I supposed to do with $16 in food stamps I don't spend money on fast food or restaurants this is appalling and a slap in the face from all the tax dollars I've put into the system