Can I Own a Car While on Food Stamps?

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The federal food stamp program provides financial assistance to families to buy food. To qualify for food stamp aid, your income cannot exceed the national poverty line. In addition, the "countable" resources for your household must fall within the program guidelines. For some states, countable resources include the fair market value of your car. If the value of your car exceeds your household countable resource limit, you are not eligible to receive food stamps.

What is a Countable Resource?

  • Countable resources include assets and alternative sources of income such as the money you have in your bank account or child support payments. To qualify for food stamps, your household can have no more than $2,000 in combined countable resources. Up to $4,650 of the fair market value of one car per adult in your household is not counted if your state includes vehicles as a countable resource.

Vehicle Considerations

  • The market value of one of your vehicles is considered on your food stamp application if the value of the car is more than $4,650. Owning a second vehicle may not count against you on your food stamp application if the car is worth less than $4,650 and the car is needed for work or job training. A car for a teenage household member is also not considered countable if the teen is using the car for work, to look for work or train for a job. Cars used to transport disabled household members are not considered regardless of their fair market value.

Exceptions

  • Qualifying for food stamp aid using the combined resources of everyone in your household may be a challenge if everyone owns a car. However, not everyone in a household is required to report the fair market value of their vehicle on a food stamp application. If someone in your household receives temporary assistance for needy families, is disabled or receives Social Security income, his countable resources are not considered. The amount you can have in countable resources with a person over the age of 60 or disabled in your household is $3,000.

Considerations

  • Owning a car does not automatically exclude you from receiving food stamp aid. The policy for handling vehicles is determined at the state level. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as of 2011, 39 states exclude the value of your vehicle entirely when determining your eligibility for the food stamp program. In addition, 11 states exclude the value of at least one vehicle as a countable resource. To determine whether your state considers your car as a countable resource, contact the state agency that administers your local food stamp program.

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