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Military Benefits

For non-deployed service members, income includes benefits paid directly to the service member, such as food and clothing allowances. Income also includes housing allowances for households living off-base in the general commercial or private real estate market.

For deployed service members, income only includes the portion of a deployed service member’s income made available to the household by the deployed service member, (or on their behalf). For more information, see: SP 06-2010, CACFP 03-2010, SFSP 04-2010: Exclusion of Military Combat Pay,

Military Compensation to be Excluded as Reportable Income

Combat Pay to be excluded as reportable income:

  • Deployment Extension Incentive Pay (DEIP) given to active-duty service members who agree to extend their military service by completing deployment with their units without re-enlisting. This exemption applies only until the service members return to their home station. DEIP payments provided to service members who are not considered deployed are not exempt.
  • Also exclude combat pay:
    • Received in addition to the service member’s basic pay;
    • Received as a result of deployment to (or service in) an area that has been designated as a combat zone; and
    • Not received by the service member prior to deployment to or service in the designated combat zone.
Medicaid or Medicare

Medicaid or Medicare information on an application for meal benefits does not qualify students for free or reduced price meals. Only students and extension to other household members may be provided free meal benefits based on Medicaid if found during the DCMP. The only eligible Medicaid students reside in the DCMP data.  If you find two records for a child in the DCMP data- one for SNAP and one for Medicaid, you should certify the student free eligible based on SNAP, as DCMP SNAP is the highest level of free eligibility in Child Nutrition Programs.

Special Education/Foreign Exchange/Immigrant/Refugee Students

Special education, foreign exchange, immigrant and refugee students are not automatically eligible for free meals.  These students qualify for free, reduced price and paid meals by using the same income guidelines or categorical criteria used for all students.  The SFA may claim these students for free or reduced price reimbursement only if a correctly approved application or other certification documentation is on file.

Universal Pre-K (UPK)

Students enrolled in Universal Pre-K programs are not automatically eligible for free meal benefits. These students are not necessarily from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Only UPK students with direct certification eligibility or approved income applications on file would be eligible for free or reduced price benefits.

Alimony and Child Support

Any money received by a household in the form of alimony or child support is considered income to the receiving household. Money paid by a household in the form of alimony or child support is not excluded as income for that household.

Income for the Self-Employed

Self-employed persons may use their previous year’s income as a basis to project their current year’s net income, unless their current net income provides a more accurate measure.

Self-employed persons are credited with net income rather than gross income. Net income for self-employed farmers, for example, is figured by subtracting the farmer’s operating expenses from the gross receipts. See the USDA Eligibility Manual for a listing of deductible and non-deductible business expenses, gross receipts and operating expenses.

Income from Wages and Self-Employment

For a household with income from wages and self-employment, each amount must be listed separately. When a household experiences a business loss, income from wages must not be reduced by the amount of the business loss. If income from self-employment is negative, it is listed as zero.

Projected Income for Seasonal Workers

Certain workers, such as seasonal workers, experience income fluctuations throughout the year, meaning they earn more money in some months than in other months. For these workers, reporting the previous month’s income may distort the household’s actual financial circumstances. In these situations, the household may project its annual rate of income, and report this amount as its current income. If the prior year’s income provides an accurate reflection of the household’s current annual rate of income, the prior year may be used as a basis for the projected annual rate of income.

The SFA must determine the period of time any earnings are received for seasonal workers, as well as the amount and source. Seasonal workers with annual employment contracts, such as school employees, may choose to have their salaries paid over a shorter period of time. To treat these employees in the same manner as employees who choose to have their salaries paid over the full year, the SFA must determine the full amount of income available contractually on an annual basis, and convert all income sources to annual amounts.

Last updated
June 5, 2019

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible state or local agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form which can be obtained online at:, from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted to USDA by:

  1. mail:
    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; or
  2. fax:
    (833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442; or
  3. email:


This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

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