Why Do They Subtract 30% of My Net Income to Determine Benefits Allotment?

Researcher & Writer
February 20, 2016

30% is the percentage of income that the average person is expected to spend on food. While this isn’t an exact amount and some households may spend more or less, it is the average expected amount. The amount of money households spend on food is proportionate to how much their income is.

The higher the income, the more you are expected to spend on food. If that amount is high enough, you won’t qualify for SNAP. The maximum monthly amounts are the limits in which households of different sizes are expected to spend on food in an average month.

The maximum amount is based on the size of the household because it is anticipated that the more people you have living in the house, the more you will need to be spending on food to feed everyone. While the actual amounts will likely vary based on the ages of the household members, the maximum limits are based solely on the number of people and does not take age into consideration. The following table shows the maximum monthly allotment allowed based on the size of the household.

People in the household
Maximum Monthly Allotment
1 $194
2 $357
3 $511
4 $649
5 $771
6 $925
7 $1022
8 $1169
Each additional person $146

Monthly allotments are figured out by subtracting the 30% of your income from the maximum monthly amount. The less your 30% is, the more money you will get in your monthly allotment. For example, if the government is assuming a family of 5 is going to pay $771 a month for groceries, but 30% of your income comes to $500, your benefits will only be $221. This is based on the assumption that you are still going to put 30% of your income towards food regardless of what your actual income is.

SNAP benefits have been criticized in the media because people argue they don’t provide families with enough money for food. However, it is important to understand that these benefits are only meant to supplement your current food costs.

Prior to figuring out the 30%, individuals are allowed to deduct certain expenses from their total income in order to bring it down first. These deductible expenses include child or elderly care, child support, medical expenses, and shelter costs. The 30% is taken from your net income after all possible deductions have been subtracted. There are a total of seven allowable deductions that may or may not apply to your situation.

For example, depending on your income and expenses, you can deduct a portion of your living expenses. This would include up to $504 of your mortgage or rent and utility costs. Based on these deductions, the 30% taken into consideration is smaller than one may think.

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