Food stamps in Oklahoma are available to families who need help buying food and meet eligibility requirements. Income level is one of the key criteria for inclusion in the food stamp program, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The federal government establishes the basic eligibility guidelines and allows individual states to tweak them as needed.
For most households in Oklahoma, the first income test that applies is gross income per month. A family's combined income must not exceed 130 percent of the federal poverty level for a given household size. After subtracting various deductions, the state next applies a net income test. A family's net income may not exceed 100 percent of the federal poverty level for a given household size. Any income in excess of those limits makes the household ineligible for food stamps.
The determination of a household's net income consists of taking its gross income and subtracting various deductions. Examples of the applicable deductions include 20 percent of earned income and a flat deduction of $142 for households with three or fewer people and $153 for households with four or more people, as of January 2011. Certain child-care expenses also count as a deduction, as do child-support payments and out-of-pocket medical expenses in excess of $35 per month for elderly or disabled family members. Another deduction is shelter and utility costs that surpass half the household's remaining income after the aforementioned deductions.
Federal guidelines make certain households in Oklahoma and elsewhere exempt from the gross income test, meaning that only their net income counts in determining their eligibility. This rule applies to any households with an elderly or disabled member. An elderly member for the purposes of food stamp eligibility is anyone age 60 or older. A disabled member is anyone who receives government disability benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income or Social Security disability.
After helping to determine eligibility, an Oklahoma household's net income factors into the amount of SNAP benefits it receives each month. The federal government establishes maximum monthly allotments for each household size; examples as of 2011 are $526 for a three-person family, $668 for a four-person family and $793 for a five-person family. A household's actual benefits are its maximum allotment reduced by 30 percent of net income. Therefore, only households with no earned income receive the maximum allotment.