Do Unemployment Checks Affect Food Stamp Amounts?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

careertrend article image
Koonsiri Boonnak/iStock/GettyImages

In this atmosphere of financial uncertainty, it's nice to know assistance programs are here to help when we need them. One of these programs is food stamps, also called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which gives low-income families the means to buy groceries. Applicants must meet income requirements in order to receive benefits. A variety of income sources are considered, including unemployment insurance.

Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment insurance pays those who have lost their jobs about half of what they were earning when employed, according to Work World. Each state has its own maximum payments and the length of time a person can receive unemployment checks, though the average length of time is 26 weeks. The gross amount of your unemployment payment is considered unearned income by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is counted when you apply for SNAP.

Income Limits

As of 2011, the gross federal income guidelines for food stamp eligibility begin at $1,174 a month for one person, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and go up by about $406 a month as more people are added to the household. A family of two, for instance, can receive $1,579 a month and a family of three can receive $1,984 a month before deductions. As long as your unemployment payments are less than these limits a month, you will still qualify for benefits.

Calculating Eligibility

Most unemployment payments are made on a weekly basis, according to Work World, while income guidelines are determined by monthly income. To estimate your eligibility for SNAP benefits, multiply the gross amount of your weekly benefits by 4.3. Round to the nearest cent to determine your monthly income, then compare the total to the income guidelines.


The benefit amount you qualify for depends on your earned income, unearned income such as your unemployment payments, expenses and the number of people living with you, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As of 2011, the most you can receive as a single person is $200 a month. This amount increases depending on your family size. Two people can receive up to $367 a month, while five can receive up to $793 a month.