Benefits are called allotments in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamp Program).
Households are issued a monthly SNAP allotment or benefit based on the Thrifty Food Plan, a low-cost model diet plan. The Thrifty Food Plan, in turn, is based on the National Academy of Sciences' Recommended Dietary Allowances and on food choices of low-income households.
An individual household's SNAP allotment/benefit is equal to the maximum allotment for that household size less 30 percent of the household's net income as determined under SNAP rules. Households with no countable income receive the maximum allotment.
Allotments are prorated during the initial month of eligibility, based on the date of application. If the computed benefit is less than $10 during the first month, then no allotment is made.
After the initial month, households consisting of one or two people will receive the minimum benefit amount of $10 (if before 10/01/2008) or eight percent of the maximum SNAP allotment for a household containing one member (if on or after 10/01/2008). There is no minimum benefit amount for households consisting of three or more people.
Maximum allotment levels are higher for Alaska and Hawaii because of the higher food prices in these states. In fact, Alaska has three different maximum allotment standards to reflect regional variation.
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