Sunday, May 3, 2009

Do I qualify for food stamps?

I don't think I do. But back in January, I completed and mailed in an application for food stamps, just for the heck of it. I never heard back and promptly forgot about it. Well, they called me last week to say I had a phone interview on Friday. But then on Thursday, I received a letter saying I was determined to be ineligible, but that I should attend an in-person interview on Friday if my circumstances had changed so they could re-evaluate. I called on Friday, and the woman I spoke with seemed to be saying that I'd been found inelegible just because I hadn't included a bunch of paperwork: a copy of my lease, bills for electricity and gas, proof of unemployment benefits, etc. So I made an appointment for tomorrow at 9 AM. Should be interesting.

According to the NYC Human Resources Administration's Department of Social Services pamphlet, "What You Need to Know About Food Stamps" ( a "family" of one can't make more than $1127 per month gross, or $867 per month net. I gross $1720 per month in unemployment alone, so according to those guidelines, I'm over the limit. But in fine print, it says, "Certain subtractions to your gross income, called deductions, are allowed. These can be for things like housing, child support payments, monthly medical expenses over $35 for elderly or disabled people, or child care." My rent is so high ($992.75 per month) that if I can deduct that, I may qualify. The maximum monthly food stamp amount that a household of one can receive is $200 -- the equivalent of $50 a week.

Incidentally, if I were trying to live solely off unemployment, after paying taxes on the unemployment (oh yes, they tax it), and paying for the bare necessities: rent, monthly Metro card, electricity, gas, phone (you could argue this is not a necessity, but it's hard to find a new job without a phone), laundry, food for my cat (I couldn't give her up -- no one else could handle her!), and a bus ticket to NJ to visit my dad once a month, guess how much I would have left for food every month?

$55. Yes, just $55. Scary, isn't it?? Thank goodness for tutoring.


  1. When I was a kid I was positive I would grow up and live in a mansion like Annie (not the orphanage, the Daddy Warbucks Estate). I must have done something wrong because I'm not far from the orphanage lifestyle.

  2. Ha ha ha! I know the feeling.... ;P