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.
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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.
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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!
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!
- 450+ freebies and deals for people on food stamps
- 7 surprising things you can buy with food stamps
- How to get more food stamps every month
- Fast food with EBT?! It works in these areas!
- What bills count for food stamps?
- Food Stamps FAQ
I hope this helps! If you have any additional questions, please leave a comment below!