Department of Defense - Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance
for Certain Members of the Armed Forces
Purpose: Included in the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal
Year 2001, signed into law on October 30, 2000, is a provision requiring
the Department of Defense (DoD) to pay certain service members and their
families a Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance (FSSA) so they will
not have to rely on food stamps to make ends meet.
FSP Participation: DoD estimates about 5,100 members, mostly
in low pay grades with large families, are receiving food stamps.
Effective Date: DoD plans to implement its FSSA program on May
1, 2001 by law DoD cannot implement any earlier.
Program Available Overseas: The FSSA program will be available
to all qualified service members regardless of their location in the United
States or overseas.
Eligibility: Gross income and household size will be used in
determining eligibility and computing benefits for FSSA. Resources or
deductions to income will not be considered.
Entitlement: Members who have completed basic training are entitled
to the cash benefit up to $500 per month providing their household’s income
is within the gross income limits used by the Food Stamp Program (FSP)
to establish eligibility -- $1,848 for a 4-person household.
Benefit Calculation: The amount of the benefit will be determined
by subtracting the household’s income from the gross income limits. The
member will be paid the difference up to $500 per month ensuring household
income at 130 percent of poverty for most families. By law, DoD is required
to use the FSP’s gross income limits and definition of household.
Benefit Amounts Equal to FSP Allotments: If an eligible member
can establish that his/her household would receive more benefits under
the FSP than the FSSA, DoD must pay the member the food stamp allotment
amount but not more than $500.
Treatment of Housing: In determining eligibility and benefits
for the FSSA, the value of base housing will count as income. Members
not receiving the basic allowance for housing because they live on base
will have counted as income the amount of the housing allowance that they
are entitled to if living off base.
Members Can Receive Both FSSA and Food Stamps: Nothing in the
law prohibits service members from receiving both FSSA and food stamp
benefits at the same time. However, the FSP will count any FSSA benefits
as income just like any other military income -- in determining eligibility
and allotment amounts under the FSP.
FSP Eligibility Not Affected: The FSSA program does not change
eligibility standards for the FSP or how benefits are calculated service
members will continue to be eligible for food stamps on the same basis
as other low-income households.
No Restrictions on Use of FSSA: Benefits under the FSSA program
are paid in cash. Although benefits are intended to supplement the regular
subsistence allowance, there are no restrictions on how benefits can be