How to Apply for SNAP in Georgia
On average, food costs between $150 and $300 per person each month. If you can’t afford to put food on the table, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help. If you want to know how to apply for SNAP benefits in the state of GA, you’re in the right place.
The federal government provides SNAP benefits, and they are available to individuals and families who meet certain income guidelines. The program provides you with a monthly benefit you can use to purchase groceries for you and your family. The amount you get depends on your family size and income level. To apply for the benefits, you need to apply online at gateway.ga.gov or by phone at (877) 423-4746.
What Are SNAP Benefits?
SNAP is a federally-funded program that provides eligible households with a monthly benefit to pay for food. SNAP benefits include groceries such as fruits and vegetables, dairy products, meat, poultry, fish, and other dry and canned grocery goods. There are some restrictions on what you can purchase, though.
Once you are approved for benefits, you’ll get a debit card loaded with your benefits. You can use this card to pay for qualifying items at any store that accepts the EBT (electronic benefit transfer) card. The EBT card works just like a debit card on authorized purchases.
SNAP benefits used to be known as food stamps. Before debit cards were provided, families actually got paper vouchers to use in stores. These made things very difficult and confusing. The debit card has made it much easier to use SNAP benefits and has reduced any stigma that families may have felt when using food stamps.
Who Is Eligible?
The eligibility rules for SNAP benefits change frequently and can be complicated. Though the program is funded by the federal government and the eligibility is uniform, states may vary in their categorical eligibility.
Whether your household consists of just you or your entire family, income will be the main determinant of eligibility. To be eligible in the state of Georgia, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be a resident of the state
- Have a bank balance of less than $2,001 (savings and checking combined) OR
- Have a bank balance under $3,001 and share your household with one of the following individuals:
- A person over the age of 60
- A person with a disability (your spouse, parent, child, or yourself)
In addition to meeting these requirements, there are also certain income requirements that you must meet as well. You can see the full table of household size and income limits for more information. This table considers your household size to determine your income threshold.
Your household size includes everyone who lives together in your home and purchases and prepares meals together. This includes spouses, children, and disabled or elderly adults who live in your home.
How to Apply for SNAP Benefits in the State of GA
If you think you meet the eligibility requirements for SNAP benefits, there are several options for you to apply. You can fill out a paper copy of the application (found here) and either fax, mail, or bring it back to your local Division of Family & Children Services (DCFS) office. Use this locator to find the offices closest to you.
You can also fill out the application online at https://gateway.ga.gov/access/ or call (877) 423-4746 to apply over the phone. After you submit the application, a member of your household must have a phone interview with a DFCS case manager. The individual who does the interview should know about the household situation and answer questions about the household, its members, and the finances.
Once you have completed the application and the interview, it may be up to 30 days before your application is approved and you start receiving benefits. However, if you meet certain requirements, you may be eligible to receive your SNAP benefits faster. This information is included in the application and will be considered when you apply.
If you receive benefits, you must undergo periodic review and may have to re-verify your income. You must also update your benefits application if your income changes, particularly if it increases, as it may reduce the amount of benefits you are eligible for.
How Much Will I Get?
Just as your eligibility is based on your income, the amount of benefits you receive each month will depend on your household size. Once you are eligible, the amount, called an allotment, is determined by how many people you are supporting, not your income. The more people in your household, the more benefits you’ll receive.
To determine your allotment, multiple your total net monthly income by 0.3. This is because SNAP households are expected to spend around 30% of their income on food. Once you calculate this amount, it is subtracted from the maximum amount for that family size.
For example, the maximum amount for a family of 4 is $782. That is the highest allotment you can get, assuming you have no income. Any income you have coming in will reduce that amount.
To make things a bit more confusing, though, your income is subject to deductions. While complicating things, this is actually a good thing, as it recognizes that 100% of your monthly income isn’t available for purchasing food because you have other expenses. To determine your income, these deductions are applied:
- A standard deduction that accounts for basic and unavoidable costs (available to everyone)
- Earnings deduction (up to 20% of your earnings to pay things such as payroll taxes and other work-related expenses)
- Dependent care deduction (for child care and other dependent care expenses that are necessary to allow someone in the household to work)
- Child support deduction
- Medical expense deduction (for out-of-pocket medical expenses more than $35/month in a household with an elderly or disabled member)
- Excess shelter deduction (available if your housing costs exceed half of your income after any other deductions are considered)
What Do SNAP Benefits Cover?
SNAP benefits cover any food items for your household. You can also buy plants or seeds that grow food with these benefits as well. Milk, dairy products, fruit and vegetables, and other grocery items can be purchased with SNAP benefits.
Certain nutritional supplements, such as Ensure, can also be purchased with SNAP benefits. You can use your debit card at any retailer that accepts the EBT card.
There are things you can’t buy, however, including:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Vitamins, supplements, and medications
- Live animals and pet food
- Prepared foods for immediate consumption
- Hot foods
- Cleaning supplies, paper products, household supplies
- Hygiene items
Are There Other Benefits I Can Apply For?
SNAP benefits are just one of the programs available to individuals and families in need. If you are pregnant or have children under the age of 5 in your home, you may also qualify for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
The WIC program provides vouchers to purchase specific healthy foods, such as milk, bread, eggs, cereal, juice, canned or frozen fruits and vegetables, canned fish, peanut butter, etc. WIC also provides vouchers for infant formula. They have a Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program that allows you to use WIC vouchers to buy fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers’ markets or roadside stands approved to accept the vouchers.
If you have difficulty with other household expenses, you may also qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). TANF is another federally funded program that provides cash assistance to low-income families with children under 18. There is a work component for adult recipients of TANF, and part of the program is to provide employment assistance to recipients.
Use Our Guide to Get the Assistance You Need
If you and your family need help, don’t be afraid to ask. These programs were created to assist families in need, and you should use them if you find yourself in a situation where you can’t make ends meet on your own. SNAP benefits will help put nutritious food on your table.
Use our guide to learn more about eligibility and apply for SNAP benefits in the state of GA to get your family the assistance you need.