Am I eligible for food stamps? I'm in California
May 5, 2016 9:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to figure out if I'm eligible for food stamps. I live in California.

So here's my situation. I'm disabled, on SSDI and my monthly income from that is $950 plus I have medicare. I have substantial expenses associated with my illness that aren't covered by any government programs, especially large medical expenses. I've been living on savings which are mostly gone now.

My parents are going to start sending me money to cover the medical expenses. This comes to $3K a month. Does this count as income, thus making me ineligible for food stamps?

If so, if they paid some of my expenses directly would it still count as income?

I tried reading about this online and was very confused and didn't get a solid answer. On top of this, I think my parents are going to claim me as a dependent, and they definitely don't qualify for food stamps.
posted by Cinnamon Bear to Law & Government (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I might go into a SNAP Office and start the ball rolling, additionally, I'd talk to someone about Medi-Cal. Also Section 8 housing.

Before your parents send you money every month, exhaust every avenue of public assistance benefits available to you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:37 AM on May 5, 2016 [5 favorites]

I think my parents are going to claim me as a dependent, and they definitely don't qualify for food stamps.

That shouldn't matter. People who live together even can have one member get food stamps and the other not as long as they don't P&P or purchase and prepare food together. I would just apply and fill out the paperwork honestly unless it's a super hassle to get started. Speak to one of the people managing your SSDI benefits? I'd be a little concerned that receiving money from your parents might affect that which would be a bigger deal.
posted by jessamyn at 9:42 AM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

It looks as if (if you're the only member of the household) being an SSDI recipient you don't even need to pass the gross income test.

WRT to your parents, the regulations say: "The income and resources of nonhousehold members as specified in Section 63-402.21 and the excluded household members specified in Sections 63-402.225, .226, and .322 shall not be considered available to the household. Cash payments from the nonhousehold member to the household shall be considered income under the normal income standards set in Section 63- 502.1. Vendor payments, as defined in Section 63-502.2, shall be excluded as income. "

"Vendor payments" are defined as "Vendor payments. Money that is not legally obligated to be paid to the household, but which is paid to a third party for a household expense by a person or organization outside of the

So, while I'm hesitant to say for sure concerning complex regulations like these, it sounds as if money given to you by your parents would count as income, whereas if they paid your bills directly, those payments would not.
posted by praemunire at 9:50 AM on May 5, 2016

I have Medicare already, so don't need Medi-Cal.
posted by Cinnamon Bear at 9:52 AM on May 5, 2016

jessamyn I think SSDI is independent of income as long as you don't have a job? I used to receive interest income when I still had savings and it didn't affect my SSDI.
posted by Cinnamon Bear at 9:53 AM on May 5, 2016

Following up on what praemunire said, it also looks like the money your parents give you for medical expenses (beyond $35) are deductible. So it really doesn't matter if they're income or not.
posted by ubiquity at 9:55 AM on May 5, 2016

Oh I should mention that I'm housebound, so I can't go to any offices. But I can make phone calls, so that should generally be the same difference, I assume.
posted by Cinnamon Bear at 9:58 AM on May 5, 2016

Medicare does not cover all of your medical expenses. Having Medi-Cal in addition to Medixare could save you thousands and thousands of dollars. Go ahead and apply for it. If you are eligible, it could help a lot.
posted by SLC Mom at 10:11 AM on May 5, 2016 [6 favorites]

If so, if they paid some of my expenses directly would it still count as income?

No - in general, if your parents give you money, it counts as a gift, not income. Your parents won't have to pay taxes on these gifts until they hit their lifetime exclusion amount - which is something like $5.45 million the last time I checked. However, if they end up giving more than $14K a year, they do have to declare the amount in excess of 14K on their taxes, and only that excess ends up counting against their lifetime exclusion. Neither you nor they have to pay taxes in that case though. If the money is used to pay for medical expenses then it doesn't count as a gift and your parents get to deduct that on their taxes - but only the amount exceeding 10% of their adjusted gross income (although that can be combined with their own medical expenses and other deductions, like mortgage interest, etc.)
posted by un petit cadeau at 10:26 AM on May 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

You can apply online and do everything over the phone.

But I think your 950 per month income by itself is to high for food stamps or snap.. But apply anyway.

posted by cairnoflore at 10:27 AM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Online prescreening tool.

You can also apply online. They should be able to do your interview by phone to accommodate your disability.

There is normally a resource (ie savings account, assets) limit. This does not apply to disabled individuals. Furthermore, the gift income from family should not qualify as income at all. If you want to, you can ask that they pay medical stuff directly to further make it clear this is not income.
posted by Michele in California at 10:31 AM on May 5, 2016

Thanks so much everybody. I went through the prescreening tool and it said I was probably not eligible. But I guess I should find a social worker to help me and make sure. I am cognitively impaired and I can get through a phone call but it will be a terrible strain; I don't suppose there's any way to have a social worker email me? Then I can go more slowly and it's much easier.

SLC Mom, I did not know that about Medi-Cal and I will look into that.

This is all a lot of information for me to take in but I will keep coming back and reading the thread to make sure I understood it all.
posted by Cinnamon Bear at 11:01 AM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you have a Catholic Charities branch in the area, contact them. I went in person and they helped me fill out the online application at a time when I was too sick to cope with something like that. I don't know if you will need to go in person or not and I don't know how much their programs vary from place to place.

If you are in San Diego, I know of one other option for potential assistance with a food stamp application, but I am not clear if you would qualify. You could memail me.
posted by Michele in California at 12:19 PM on May 5, 2016

No - in general, if your parents give you money, it counts as a gift, not income.

You are mixing up two things: income for the purposes of taxation and income for the purposes of calculating SNAP eligibility. They are not the same. From the regulations, it appears that at least some gifts would qualify as income for SNAP eligibility purposes.

OP, if you happen to be near a Single Stop office (unfortunately the website sucks, and there aren't many non-student ones in CA), they can help you figure out the SNAP situation and suggest other benefits you might not be aware of. It's free.
posted by praemunire at 1:05 PM on May 5, 2016

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