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Food Supplement Program

Image of Independence Card

As of October 2008, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the name for the formerly known federal Food Stamp Program. In Maryland, it is known as the Food Supplement Program (FSP) providing monthly benefits to families and individuals who need assistance in buying food.

Benefits are available to American citizens and some categories of legal aliens if they meet program guidelines. FSP benefit amounts are based on the "Thrifty Food Plan" as defined by the federal government. Benefit amounts are standardized across the country.

Qualifying Households

A FSP household is made up of all individuals who purchase and prepare food together. This includes applicants, spouses (including common law) and their children under age 22.


All earned and unearned income (including public assistance benefits) is counted in the FSP eligibility determination. A disregard of 20 percent is applied to earned income. Child care and medical expenses are also taken into consideration.

Living expenses such as rent, mortgage, utilities, taxes, insurance or medical insurance premiums are considered for aged and disabled applicants.


The maximum allowable asset limit is $2,000 per household. A household with at least one member age 60 or over is allowed assets of $3,000. Assets include bank accounts, stocks and bonds. Assets which are not counted include the residence, cash value of life insurance, burial plots and most vehicles.

Work Registration

The FSP requires all able bodied adults and individuals who are recipients of non-public assistance food stamps, ages 18 to 60 and are not fully employed participate in the FSP Employment and Training Program. This also includes individuals 16 or 17 years of age who are not attending school and who are members of an eligible household. There are several components to this program, including job search. Failure to comply with these program requirements mean the loss of food stamp benefits. There are exemptions to the program for illness, age, etcetera.

Income Test

A household not categorically eligible and without an elderly or disabled member must meet both the gross and net income standards of column A and B below.

A household not categorically eligible with an elderly or disabled member has to meet only the net standard of column B.

Household Size

Maximum Gross Monthly Income(A)

Maximum Net Monthly Income(B)

Monthly Income Separate Household(C)

Maximum Allotment Food Plan(D)









































Each Additional Member

Add $451

Add $347

Add $572

Add $146

Note: Maximum gross and net monthly income figures are not used for computing the food stamp allotment. They are included as a reference for determining the household's eligibility.

Expedited FSP Benefits

All applications must be screened for expedited FSP benefits. An applicant must be a resident, have no income or have expenses which exceed the gross monthly income for the month of application. Expedited benefits must be made available to eligible recipients by the seventh day following the date of application.

Electronic Benefit Transfer System (EBTS)

In Maryland, recipients may access their benefits through a plastic card known as the Independence Card. This card ma

y be used in any participating food market or grocery store. It is used as a debit card and the recipient's purchase is subtracted from the benefit. A representative may receive training in the use of the card.


Prior to issuance of benefits, a valid application must be filed, interview conducted (as needed) and all financial and technical eligibility factors must be met. The program is accessed through the EBTS.

How to Apply:

  • Online at myDHR
  • At your local Department of Social Services.
  • You may file an application by mail, fax or other electronic means or someone may drop off your application for you. Please be sure the person gets a receipt.

Additional Food Resources


Revised October 14, 2016        

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