The Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance (FSSA) is a financial support program that few active duty military families utilized or know about. This Department of Defense program is designed to help service members reach financial stability so that they will no longer be eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) , formerly known as food stamps.
Eligibility for FSSA is based on the family’s income and household size. There must be at least 1 dependent living in the home to qualify. If the household income is not 130% above the poverty line then the family may meet the requirements. There is an online worksheet that can be used to determine eligibility. Note that you do not have to qualify for or be utilizing SNAP at the time of application for FSSA.
In order to prove your income level the sponsor must provide a copy of his or her LES, pay stubs for other working family members, current bank statements and previous tax returns. To verify your household size you need the service member’s Page 2, a list of dependents as shown in DEERS and social security numbers. Once the application is completed online and the service member has their commanding officer sign off on it, the amount of FSSA will be determined and paid. This amount will be no more than $1,100 a month and therefore, there are other things to consider when accepting this financial support.
While this allowance is non-taxable, it can change your eligibility for other financial support programs such as subsidized school lunches, WIC (Women, Infant and Children nutritional support program) as well as earned income tax credit.
The purpose behind FSSA is to provide military families with enough financial stability that they will no longer need SNAP specifically, but hopefully this will also help families alleviate the need for some of these other programs.
Each command is required to have a FSSA Coordinator so if you have questions or simply prefer filling out paperwork in person rather than using the online worksheet, they are available. You can also get detailed information on FSSA at the Fleet and Family Support Center, Army Community Services, or Marine Corps Community Services.
Re-certification must take place 30 days after a change in household income or family size as well as when there is a change of duty station. It may be more convenient to use the online worksheet if you find your family situation changing frequently. The loss or addition of a spouse’s job for example will change your income level as will advance in pay grade for the active duty member. At minimum, each year the family will need to be re-certified.
Payments will not automatically stop due to a change of duty station or situation; it is the member’s responsibility to inform the FSSA Coordinator of this change. A change of as small as $100 in income must be reported within 30 days. If this or any other change is found and not reported there are repercussions such as disciplinary action and wage garnishment.
A Department of Defense official recently said that 668 full-time active-duty members and activated guardsmen and reservists are receiving FSSA.
All of these facts are not meant to scare or deter military families from applying. The application process and re-certification are quite simple. This is simply an explanation of the program in detail so that families know about the program and how to apply for it.