Can you get food stamps on long-term disability?

February 9, 2024 | J. Price McNamara
Can you get food stamps on long-term disability
Can you get food stamps on long-term disability?

When you have become disabled and you cannot work, you can struggle financially. You cannot earn the same amount of money as you did before you became disabled, and you may struggle to even pay the monthly bills for your basics, such as food and housing.

You may qualify for disability insurance benefits if you have an insurance policy and you meet the policy’s definition of the term disabled. This money will be crucial for you and your family as you seek to keep supporting yourself. Depending on the amount of money you are receiving, you may obtain other benefits, such as food stamps.

If you have a potential disability insurance claim or have filed for benefits and been denied, contact an experienced Houston long-term disability lawyer to discuss your case. It costs you nothing to get legal advice for what might be a challenging situation for you.

Food Stamps Are Intended to Help Low-Income People and Families

The food stamp program has been in place since the 1960s to address the inequalities of food insecurity. Passed as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), food stamps help families afford food. This assistance has become more critical recently, as the global price of food has soared since the pandemic.

Low-Income People

The amount of food stamps received depends on the household size and the state where you live. If you have a household of four, you can receive up to $700 per month in government assistance.

You no longer receive actual stamps as you did in the past. These days, your monthly benefit is loaded onto an EBT card each month. There are certain limitations on how you can use your food stamp benefits, but they can broadly help with your grocery purchases. You may find yourself needing this help at some point in time.

You May Need Food Stamps to Help You and Your Family

If you cannot work, you may need benefits from every source possible to keep your head above water. You may have performed a search for available government benefits to learn the ones for which you may qualify.

Some programs can help you, although they are subject to strict income requirements. Some programs may even be subject to asset limitations that keep you from qualifying if you have a certain amount of money saved.

Some exceptions to the income thresholds may allow people with disabilities to receive food stamps. However, these exceptions are usually available for those receiving SSDI, not long-term disability benefits.

Eligibility for Food Stamps Depends on Income and Asset Levels

Each state sets its own income limit for the food stamp program. These thresholds have increased based on the recent inflation levels in the overall economy. The thresholds are usually tied to the federal poverty level. You need to earn less than an amount determined by the poverty line to qualify for food stamps.

For example, if you are in a household of one, you can earn no more than 130 percent of the federal poverty level to qualify for benefits. The thresholds rise, the larger your household is.

For example, if your household is four people, there is a higher poverty line for the entire household. In some states, you can earn as much as 200 percent of the federal poverty level and still qualify for food stamps.

Sometimes, you can earn more than $3,000 per month and still qualify for food stamps. Other states may raise the threshold if there is a disabled person in the household. You likely meet that requirement if you have qualified for disability insurance benefits.

You May Still Fall Below Food Stamp Income Levels When You Receive Long-Term Disability Benefits

If you qualify for disability insurance benefits, you can receive 40 to 70 percent of the income you earned before you became disabled. Then, you may not know that many long-term disability insurance policies do not adjust benefits for inflation. 

Recieve Disability Benefits

Some policies rely on your income when you purchased the policy, and the income does not adjust as you earn more. The only way that your benefits may have adjusted based on a higher salary or inflation is if you or your employer purchased a specific rider that allows that.

Many employers are just purchasing insurance to say they offer a competitive benefits package, so they may not have paid for this rider.

Therefore, you may begin to understand how you can be below the necessary limits for the food stamp program, even after you are receiving long-term disability insurance benefits. Your payments may not increase over time, but the threshold to participate in the food stamp program does.

Let’s say you have a family of four and are the only breadwinner in the family. If your long-term disability insurance benefit check is $3,000 monthly, you will still be eligible for SNAP benefits.

You Could Still Qualify for Food Stamps

It is possible that you may qualify for SNAP benefits in the future, even if you were ineligible to receive them when you first began to get a disability insurance check.

The combination of the rising federal poverty threshold and your benefits staying the same can mean you fall below the necessary limits. Then, you and your family will have significant support by qualifying for food stamps. The amount of aid that you may receive can make things easier for you and your family.

Thus, keep checking the SNAP eligibility threshold each year to see if you now qualify for these benefits.

If you begin on short-term disability benefits, you may need to apply for long-term disability if your benefits are lapsing, and you will not recover enough to work again.

The insurance company may be stricter about allowing you to qualify for long-term disability benefits because it means that they need to pay more. You may find yourself in a situation where you are fighting for benefits and need to receive food stamps in the meantime.

A Lump-Sum Settlement Could Complicate Your Eligibility for Food Stamps

You may have accepted a lump-sum settlement for your disability insurance claim and found it advantageous to take your payments all at one time. Then, you may have money in your account, possibly putting food stamps out of reach if you do not meet the asset limitations.

How the state handles your individual situation depends on the facts and circumstances, but you should understand the implications of accepting a lump-sum settlement.

Your attorney can advise you on what you need to consider when deciding whether to receive your benefits all at once or take monthly payments.

A Disability Could Help You Around Work Requirements

There are also other issues involved with applying for food stamps. Over the years, the government has tightened the requirements for the SNAP program in other ways.

For example, there is a requirement that able-bodied adults between the ages of 16 and 60 register for work, accept an offer of suitable work, and participate in an employment and training program when referred to one.

It is not possible to look for work or accept a job when you have a disability that keeps you from working. You must also demonstrate to the state that you cannot look for a job. The work requirement applies to able-bodied adults, and you are not able-bodied in light of your disabled physical condition.

You May Have to Apply for Food Stamps if Your Long-Term Insurance Claim Is Denied

Of course, if your disability insurance claim is denied, you may end up without means of support. You may then have to rely on the social safety net to cover some of your expenses.

You may need to apply for either SSDI or SSI payments. Depending on your income and asset level, you may need to apply for SNAP benefits. The last thing that you want to do is struggle to figure out how you will put a roof over your head and food on the table when you are suffering from a disability.

You Need an Attorney When Long-Term Disability Benefits Are at Stake

Thus, you must hire an experienced disability attorney to help with your long-term disability insurance case. Preferably, you should retain counsel when you are in the process of filing your claim. Then, you can put your best foot forward to the insurance company.

If not, there is a stronger chance that your initial claim will be denied. When that happens, you must go through the appeals process. It can take a year or more to resolve your case during the appeals process, either in court or by negotiating a settlement with the insurance company.

There are many reasons why the insurance company might deny your disability benefits claim. The foremost reason is that it costs them money, and you have little to no recourse against the insurance company other than filing an appeal (assuming that you need to file the appeal under ERISA).

The insurance company will usually come up with an argument that you can still work despite your condition. They may not believe the severity and effects of your condition when looking at it on paper. They might also claim that you are suffering from a pre-existing condition that you had before you began the policy.

These are only some reasons you might receive a claim denial. If you do, immediately hire a disability attorney.

You Must File an Appeal to Fight the Claim Denial

Claim Denied

You will need to file an appeal. How you proceed depends on how you obtained the policy. If your employer provides the policy, you will first file an appeal directly with the insurance company, as this is required under the law.

You must build an extremely thorough appeal file, even though there is a high likelihood that the insurance company will deny your appeal.

If the insurer denies your administrative appeal, you will then go to federal court, where a judge will review the same appeal file to determine whether the insurance company made an error.

You cannot present additional evidence for the court to consider, so you must have a robust and persuasive insurance appeal file. You need a highly experienced disability attorney to handle your appeal from the very start.

If you purchased the policy on your own, you might file a lawsuit against the insurance company for breach of contract. Your policy is a contract between you and the insurance company, and they are obligated to pay you benefits if you meet the policy’s definition of disabled.

You can sue the insurance company in state court without going through their internal appeal process first. Insurance companies may be slightly more reasonable in non-ERISA cases because you may have some recourse against them for their misconduct. You can potentially sue them for bad faith if there is no reasonable basis for them denying your claim in the first place.

You Do Not Have to Pay Upfront to Hire a Disability Insurance Lawyer

Hiring a disability insurance appeals attorney does not cost you anything out of your own pocket. Money is already tight enough for you without having to come up with money to pay an attorney a retainer. You can get the legal help you need without putting yourself in a further financial hole.

When you hire an attorney for your case, you only have to pay them if you receive a settlement or win your case entirely. Before that time, you do not need to pay anything. If you do not win your case, you do not have to pay an attorney anything for their services.

When you consult a lawyer right after a disabling diagnosis, they can handle the claim process from the start. This often gives you a greater chance of success the first time around. If you received a claim denial, you should never delay in hiring a lawyer to overturn the decision and obtain the benefits you deserve. 

J. Price McNamara Author Image

J. Price McNamara


Losing my own brother, then my father and sister after long, disabling illnesses just a few months apart drove a career change for me. Before that experience, I never truly understood the place you’re in. I never understood the dramatic impact that receiving (or not receiving) the disability and life insurance benefits you paid for and counted on can have on your life especially when you need to focus on family and healing. What I experienced with my own family now drives the way I view my clients and my work, and I will never forget it!

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