In food policy class this Fall, I explained how eligibility for food stamps is determined: gross income below a certain threshold (130 percent of the poverty standard), net income below a certain threshold (100 percent of the poverty standard), an asset test ($2,000 or $3,000 asset limit), special rules if you already receive cash assistance or SSI or are disabled or elderly, and so forth.
"Can that be right?," a student asked, upon hearing the part about the asset test. "I know for certain that there is no asset test in Massachusetts, at least not for families with children."
Sure enough. In Massachusetts, families with a child under age 19 benefit from more lenient rules, including a more permissive income cutoff (200% of the poverty standard) and no asset test. Asset rules for the Food Stamp Program vary substantially from state to state.
Good sources of information about the details of food stamp rules in Massachusetts include Massachusetts Legal Services and Project Bread, and good sources at the national level include the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Food Research and Action Center.