Food Stamp Time Limits

Authored By: Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida


Who has a time limit on getting food stamps?

Adults between the ages of 18 and 50 who aren’t too sick to work have time limits on their food stamps.

What are the time limits?

Persons who have time limits can only get food stamps for 3 months in a three-year (36 month) period. 

Do all adults between 18 and 50 years old have time limits?

No. Here is a list of persons who do not have time limits:

  • People who are physically or mentally unfit to work
  • A person in the home who has to take care of either a child under age 18 or an incapacitated person
  • Pregnant women
  • Some students in school, training or college at least half-time
  • People doing a work activity for WAGES
  • People taking part in the work requirements of the Unemployment Compensation program
  • A regular participant in a drug or alcohol treatment and rehabilitation program
  • Someone with weekly earnings at least equal to the minimum wage multiplied by 30
  • Someone living in an area determined by the state to be lacking employment opportunities. These determinations may change every year, so be sure to ask whether you live in one of the areas identified as lacking jobs. 

I was told I couldn't get food stamps until my 36 months is up. Is there any way that I can become eligible again before 3 years?

Yes, you can begin to get food stamps again if you do one of the following things:

  • Start working 80 or more hours a month
  • Take part in the Food Stamp Employment and Training Program for 80 or more hours a month
  • Take part in a Workfare program
  • Take part in a state-established program similar to Workfare

After you become eligible again, you have to continue to do one of the following:

  • Work an average of 30 hours per week
  • Take part in Food Stamp Employment and Training program requirements for 30 or more hours per week
  • Take part in Workfare or a comparable state program 

I requalified for food stamps by starting to work again, but I got laid off. Is there any way I can get food stamps?

Possibly, even though you may have already received 3 months of food stamps, you might be able to get a one-time extension of 3 months if you were laid off.

I'm 39 years old and I don't have any children. I work part-time, but can't find a full-time job. I only get a few food stamps a month. Someone told me I may want to go off food stamps unless I'm really bad off. Is that true?

Maybe, since you may only be eligible for 3 months out of a 3 year period, it makes sense to try not to waste your 3 months. But first make sure that you don’t meet an exception to the time limits, like living in one of the ar- eas where there aren’t enough jobs. If you don’t meet an exception to time limits, one of the things you might want to think about is how many food stamps you get now. Think about whether what you get now is worth using up one of your months.

Updated: May 4, 2017

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