Does Having a Vehicle Count Against You When Applying for Food Stamps?


When you apply for food stamps, your caseworker bases your eligibility on your income, household members and the amount of your cashable assets, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Cashable assets include, but aren't limited to, the vehicles household members own. The USDA sets regulations about vehicle asset worth, but states are given the leeway to either implement or disregard these regulations.

USDA Vehicle Policy

  • Up to $4,650 of a vehicle's worth is exempt from resources. This means if your car is worth $5,000, only $350 of that amount is a resource. Several situations allow a vehicle's entire worth to be exempt, including if the vehicle is used for producing income, if the family lives in the vehicle, if it transports a disabled family member or the equity is $1,500 or less.

Total Exemption

  • Many states exclude vehicles as a resource, regardless of worth or use, according to Work World. These states include Kansas, Kentucky, Connecticut, Alabama, California, Mississippi and New Jersey.

Refer to TANF Guidelines

  • Other states substitute Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) guidelines instead of using the food stamp vehicle guidelines because they are less stringent, according to the USDA. These states include Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Michigan, Maryland and Massachusetts.

Bending the Rules

  • The remaining states count vehicles but set their own rules about resource evaluation, according to Work World. For example, New Hampshire excludes one household vehicle while subjecting any others to the federal guidelines. North Carolina exempts one vehicle per adult in the home. Texas exempts one vehicle with a worth of up to $15,000. Indiana excludes any vehicle used for transportation, regardless of worth.

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