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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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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Have too much month at the end of your money? Me too - and that's how Low Income Relief got started. I have over 20 years of professional research and writing experience. Over the years, I've worked as a novelist, journalist, ghostwriter and content creator. My work has been featured in various print and online publications, including USA Today, eHow.com, Livestrong.com, Legal Beagle, The Daily Herald (Provo, Utah), The Chronicle (Centralia, WA) and others. At Low Income Relief, I use my professional research and reporting experience to help low income families save money and make ends meet. It's been my full-time job since 2016, and it's truly an honor to serve you.

Kim

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.

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

Sheila R Conlee

Tuesday 17th of November 2020

Thank you for the information. Now I have another question. Why is it that they go by our gross income when that is clearly not what we bring home and get to use? And why isn't gasoline counted as an expense when we have yo have it to get to work because that in itself is $200 a month for me? My biggest question is if minimum to qualify is $1282 and max is $1755.... I gross $1382 ...why am I only getting $16 a month? These numbers don't make any sense to me. Does that mean that if someone's gross was $1700 would they only get $.01 ? I mean do you have to make below minimum to qualify for max benefit because I am really close and still only get $16?

Nora

Saturday 11th of December 2021

@Darla, You are %100 right. Why would they count our gross when it’s not what we’re taking home. I have 2 children, I’m a single mother, my son is disabled, I just moved from a shelter to an apt which I had to furnish MYSELF and the second I reported the changes they cut my food stamps to 16 dollars a month . My expenses well outway my income . I pay gas, water, electric, rent is subsidized to 433 but still 16$ a month . On top of that I never received ANY but the first of my stimulus checks thru Covid because my money is stuck in h and r block and it’s been years now that I’ve tried with the irs and they’re “ tracing it” lol. Ya . Ok. It’s crazy and really low that these people could care a less about they’re citizens . I’m in CT btw guys

Susan

Monday 17th of May 2021

I get $19 in food stamps and that is not enough for a whole month

Darla

Monday 21st of December 2020

The reason they only give $15 a month is simply because they don't give one crap about you. The whole system is corrupted and it makes hard working people like you and I suffer the most because they'd rather count our gross income instead of what we actually earn. These people working for ebt don't care about you either. That's the hard cold truth but that's just how working class are treated....

Hannah Benge

Saturday 21st of November 2020

I am not sure why they have created the laws they have. However, this video should help you with some questions and hopefully, how to get you more than 16 dollars in stamps https://youtu.be/23WCH9pbKSo. Thanks! -Hannah

Linda Michelle Crawford

Wednesday 15th of July 2020

Nichole, so glad to find your site!

I am a Disabled Senior & lived on $15 Food Stamps for 10 years, then suddenly! No clue as to what I was doing wrong.

YOU MAY BD AWARD, BUT I FOUND THIS OUT BY ACCIDENT.

Thrive Market has a free membership (generally $60/mth) that you can apply for if you’d low income etc. They don’t currently have a set-up for EBT, but are working on it. I use them because I need a lot of specialized food, being Gluten-Free due to Celiac Disease. I am currently about to go on KETO too! (NO GRAINS. No sugar. High Good Fats & moderate meats).

Just wanted you to know for those that it could help & so you maybe can nudge them!

Years ago, when I lived in Missouri, their Food Stamp Program allowed a supplemental for Medically needy diets. Not any more.

Thanks for your site. I am still exploring.

Being a fellow BIG BEAUTIFUL WOMAN MYSELF, I AM CURIOUS? Why do you have a skinny girl with shopping bags on your ad. You are beautiful. OWN IT GIRL! ?

Linda Michelle