How to Apply for SNAP in Michigan
Food insecurity in Michigan is a problem with about 12.9% of households struggling to have enough food. It’s a real burden to be an adult worrying you don’t have enough money to feed the people you love.
If you’re a low-income family, there are so many needs competing for your limited resources. Between paying the rent, keeping gas in the car to get to your job, and keeping the lights on, having money left for food can regularly feel like a stretch.
SNAP in Michigan might be just the program you need to get some assistance with food for your household. Read on to learn more about Michigan’s SNAP program, how it could help you, and what you need to do to apply.
What Is SNAP?
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP is a program available throughout the US offering low-income households food assistance. The program in Michigan is referred to simply as the Food Assistance Program or FAP.
This program’s administered by the federal government but the eligibility and application process varies from state to state. If you have limited ability to purchase food, malnutrition and other hunger-related health issues can quickly arise. Adults will have a more difficult time working and kids suffering from malnutrition will struggle to grow and learn in school.
This program is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services through the federal government, but Michigan is tasked with administering it to Michigan residents. Who Is Eligible for SNAP in Michigan?
There are several eligibility requirements to get SNAP benefits in Michigan.
First, you must be a resident of Michigan to receive benefits through the State of Michigan.
Then you must also meet one of these other criteria:
- Your bank balance under $2,001 (savings and checking combined) or
- Your bank balance under $3,251 (savings and checking combined) when you share a household with one of the following:
- A person or persons age 60 and over or
- A person with a disability (a child, your spouse, a parent, or yourself)
There are also maximum income level requirements that are based on the number of people who reside in the home.
Michigan SNAP Application Process
The SNAP application process is administered by the state’s Health and Human Services department. There are three ways you can apply, online, by mail, or in person.
To expedite the process, the method likeliest to get you benefits in the quickest manner would be to apply online.
Once you complete the application, you will also need to do an interview with a state caseworker (more on this later) and provide the necessary documentation.
Applying for SNAP online is probably the easiest method if you have access to the internet. There is an online application available on the Department of Health and Human Services website.
The online application will submit directly to the department for review. Before applying online, however, applicants will need to create an account with both a username and password.
This account will not only allow you to apply but also check the status of your account. Once you have applied and been approved, then you’ll also be able to monitor your account status once you receive benefits.
Applying By Mail
If an applicant prefers, they can also apply by mailing an application to the Department of Health and Human Services. The application, again, is available on their website where you can print it and fill it out.
If you don’t have access to a computer or the ability to print, an applicant can also visit the HHS office and pick up a paper copy.
An applicant who applies via mail will be contacted by a caseworker to set up an interview. Sending your application by mail is likely to take longer, since the department will have to process the mail and assign the application to a caseworker, versus that being handled automatically when you apply online.
You can also visit the local Health and Human Services office in person to apply. Consider getting your paper SNAP application printed ahead of your visit if possible.
This will also help you to know what kind of documentation you will need to provide. If you come with your application already complete and documentation in hand, it’s possible to get an immediate interview to expedite your application process.
Be Prepared for Your SNAP Interview in Michigan
Once your application is complete, an HHS caseworker will review the application. The applicant will be contacted by phone to arrange an interview. It’s important to answer the phone call of a caseworker when they call. Your application cannot move forward without arranging this interview.
Typically, the interview is done by phone, although you can request an in-person interview too. The caseworker will review the application with you by phone and address any questions.
It should be noted that it’s important to be honest on both your application and the interview. The applicant will be asked for documentation for information on the application. This might require you to verify your permanent address, income information, asset, expenses, or even the number of people who live in your household.
What Are Michigan’s Eligibility Requirements?
Before applying to Michigan’s Food Assistance Program, it makes sense to look at the requirements. You already know you need to be a resident of Michigan.
You also need to verify income. Income can come in a variety of forms. This can include:
- Self-employment earnings
- Rental income
- Social Security benefits
- Veterans benefits
Additionally, the caseworker will consider other assets. These might include:
- Available cash
- Checking and savings accounts balances
- Some trusts
- Property or real estate
After considering these income factors, your expenses will also be considered. Expenses might include things like:
- Rent or mortgage
- Heat, electric, water, telephone
- Court-ordered or legally obligated child support payments
- Dependent care expenses
- Medical bills
They use a formula based on all this information and including how many people are eligible and live in your household to establish eligibility.
Income Guidelines for SNAP
The SNAP or FAP program is intended for low-income individuals in Michigan who can’t afford to purchase food because of a shortage of funds. Most often, the word “income” means the money you’re paid for going to work. Yet, income can come from other sources too. In addition to wages from your job or being self-employed, income might also include money sources from:
- Rental property income
- Social Security benefits
- Veterans’ benefits
- Child support
While you might be able to do a rough calculation based on these sources of income, it makes sense to also allow the caseworker to calculate. For example, they don’t always count all of your income from each source when figuring. They will also deduct a percentage of income based on the number of people in your household.
How to Maintain Your SNAP Benefits
Once a Michigan resident goes through the application process and is eligible for SNAP benefits, they also need to maintain those benefits by being compliant with the state’s requirements.
You’re required to comply with any efforts to obtain child support. You can’t avoid seeking unpaid child support just so you can stay eligible, for example.
If you’re able-bodied, you do have to make an effort to seek employment, even if it means you might lose eligibility. There are some exceptions to working, and a caseworker could address those requirements.
If you exceed more than $5,000 in assets or your income goes above the limit, you would be disqualified. Be prepared to have to prove eligibility at case reviews.
Getting the Benefits Paid
Michigan issues recipients of the FAP what they call a Bridge card. The Bridge card allows you to make purchases using the card like you would a debit card. It also allows holders to visit ATM machines to withdraw cash. Funds get loaded onto the card directly from the state each month during eligibility.
Once you have a Bridge card, you can also monitor the balance on your card by accessing your account through the same username and password you used to apply.
Do You Need Temporary Assistance Because of the Pandemic?
If your household has lost income because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Michigan has food assistance available for children who might be impacted.
The Department of Health and Human Services wants to assure no child goes hungry because they are not in school in person or they live in a household with a dip in income. Food assistance is available for children in Michigan who may need it temporarily because of the impacts of the pandemic.
How to Get Help If You Still Need It
If you still have questions about Michigan’s SNAP program, you can visit their food assistance website. You can also contact them directly. Call 855-275-6424 to get additional help related to this program.
Getting Benefits of SNAP in Michigan
SNAP in Michigan is important to help those families experiencing food insecurity. There are other programs available to access through their website too. These might include local food banks and soup kitchens where you can get more food assistance.
Save Money on your Wireless Phone Service
If you qualify for SNAP in Michigan, you also qualify for Lifeline service. Lifeline is a federal benefit program that makes it possible for low-income consumers to receive access to free or heavily discounted communication services. Click here to find out more and apply for this valuable benefit.