Use ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Do Food Stamps Expire?

Most people find that they go through food stamps too quickly to worry about whether there’s a “use them or lose them” rule. But it turns out that this benefit expires at a certain point if unused.

Is there a use 'em or lose 'em rule with food stamps?While the actual stamps have been replaced by a card better known its acronym, EBT (electronic benefits transfer), you actually don’t have to use up the entire balance by the end of the month.

According to the U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which administers food stamps, unused benefits remain on the card for up to one year.

When You Lose ‘Em

However, if you stop using the card for a full year, the state government will remove the benefits from your card.

Each state has its own application for applying for food stamps. Many states have similar guidelines on whether applicants have jobs (unless medically or mentally unfit to work). They are also similarly concerning the possibility of losing all or some benefits should your household income increase.

You are also responsible for reporting honestly to the government these changes to your income and proof of employment.

Food Stamps Penalties

Should you fail to report honestly, you might be banned from the program. Even worse, face a fine or jail time, particularly if you lie or withhold information multiple times.

When benefits start does vary, though. States will typically go by case number, when you signed up, or the last digit of your social security number.

You can review the full list of states on the USDA website here. How much you receive also varies and is dependent on net income of your household and how many people there are.

How To Qualify

In order to qualify, your gross monthly household income must not exceed 130% of federal poverty guidelines and your net monthly household income cannot exceed 100% of federal poverty guidelines.

Going through tough times can be discouraging and defeating. It’s nice to know there are ways to get help such as SNAP.

Readers, are you now or have you ever been on food stamps? If so, how quickly did you use up the benefits each month?


With the coronavirus pandemic still going on, there have been several changes to help struggling families. The food stamps program has been offering families what they call P-EBT. It is a provision of the Families First Caronivrus Response act and is known as the pandemic electronics benefits transfer. It is for families who have children that receive free or reduce lunch in the calendar year 2019-2020.

If you do not currently receive SNAP benefits you must enroll in the program. Eligible families will receive a one-time payment of $256.50 per child. The same use it or lose it guidelines exist. They are rolled over month to month, but unused portions expire after one year.

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