This story is part of CT Mirror Explains, an ongoing effort to distill our wide-ranging reporting into a "what you need to know" format and provide practical information to our readers.
Qualifying Connecticut residents can get help paying for food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP.
SNAP benefits, which were called “food stamps” until October 2008, are federally funded. Connecticut’s Department of Social Services processes applications and determines eligibility.
Here’s how to access SNAP benefits in Connecticut.
Is my household eligible for SNAP benefits?
To qualify, all Connecticut households must meet a monthly net income limit — the total amount of money a household’s members keep after taxes and deductions — and most are subject to a monthly gross income limit as well.
The net income limit is equal to the current federal poverty level, which starts at $1,215 a month for one person and increases based on the number of household members. The gross income limit is equal to 200% of the current federal poverty level, which starts at $2,430 a month for one person and also increases based on household size.
Households with at least one member who is 60 years of age or older and/or receives disability income are exempt from the gross income limit, but if they exceed that limit, they’re subject to an asset limit of $4,250.
To calculate that number, the state includes liquid assets like cash, checking and savings accounts and stocks and bonds, but does not include assets like a home, vehicle, land, property or retirement account.
Net and gross income limits for households with multiple members can be found here.
SNAP eligibility is updated annually. The above guidelines are valid through Sept. 30, 2024.
How does the state define a ‘household’?
Connecticut defines a “household” as people who live together and buy and prepare food together.
Certain household members are required to be included — like a spouse or child under age 22 who lives with their parent(s) — but a person with a roommate, for example, isn’t required to count that roommate if each person tends to buy and prepare meals individually.
A minor’s income generally doesn’t count toward their household’s total income if that person is a student (excluding higher education) living with their natural, adoptive or stepparent(s).
I’m eligible. How much money will I receive?
That varies household-to-household and is determined through a three-step process that involves looking at a household’s monthly income, rent/mortgage and utility costs and expenses like child care and medical bills.
“Because SNAP households are expected to spend about 30 percent of their own resources on food, their allotment is calculated by multiplying the household’s net monthly income by 30%, and subtracting the result from the maximum monthly allotment for the household size,” said Daniel Giacomi, division director over program oversight and grant administration at DSS.
A single-person household can currently receive a maximum of $291 in SNAP benefits per month, and that amount rises based on number of household members.
How do I apply for SNAP benefits?
How will I receive SNAP benefits?
Funds are deposited into a recipient’s electronic benefit transfer (EBT) account each month. Recipients receive a plastic EBT card, which can be swiped like a credit/debit card at qualifying businesses.
Where in Connecticut can I use SNAP benefits?
SNAP retailers typically have signs that read “EBT Accepted,” “SNAP Accepted,” or something similar.
Residents can look up SNAP retailers near their home on this website from the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services, and can also call or visit their local Community Action Agency, call End Hunger CT! or call the DSS Benefits Center at 855-626-6632.
Will I have to re-apply for SNAP benefits?
DSS re-determines most residents’ eligibility every 12 months.
Around 45 days before a resident’s 12-month period ends, they’ll receive a form that they must return to DSS before those 45 days are up to continue receiving benefits.
Households with member(s) over the age of 60 and/or who have a disability will receive the form once every 36 months, rather than once a year.