How to Apply for SNAP in South Carolina
Compared to last year, grocery prices are up 3.5% this year. If you’re feeling the pinch on your grocery bill, you might be wondering how to apply for SNAP benefits in the state of SC.
SNAP benefits are funded by the federal government and are available to families and individuals who qualify based on certain income guidelines. If you qualify for SNAP benefits, you get a monthly benefit that can be used to purchase groceries for yourself and your family. How much you get is dependent on your income and your family size. To get SNAP benefits in South Carolina, you can apply online at https://www.scmapp.sc.gov/ or complete a paper copy of the application (which you can get at https://dss.sc.gov/media/1244/3800-2015-04.pdf) and then drop it off in person, fax it, or mail it to your local county office.
What Are SNAP Benefits?
You may know SNAP benefits as food stamps or the EBT card. Essentially, SNAP benefits provide eligible applicants with monthly benefits to purchase grocery items. There are some restrictions on what you can purchase, and not everything available in the grocery store is eligible.
SNAP is meant for grocery items, fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and poultry, dairy products, etc. but is not meant for hot foods or items such as paper towels or toiletries.
If you are approved, you’ll receive an EBT card that you can use as a debit card while shopping. You can use it at any store that accepts EBT cards, and it will automatically exclude any items that aren’t eligible, which you will have to pay cash for.
There’s even an app that you can download to check your balance at any time. The app also includes tips and opportunities to save and make money, so if you have a smartphone, the free app is definitely worth downloading.
Many farmer’s markets also accept EBT cards, giving you even more opportunities to access fresh produce and other healthy food items.
SNAP Benefit Eligibility
Eligibility for SNAP benefits depends on your household size and income. The federal government created and funds the program, but each state determines its own eligibility requirements. In South Carolina, to be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be a resident of the state of South Carolina.
- Bank balance under $2,001 (checking and savings combined) or
- Bank balance under $3,001 (checking and savings combined), and you share your home with one of the following people:
- Someone age 60 and over
- A person with a disability (could you yourself, your child, your spouse, or your parent)
If you meet these requirements, you will also have to meet income requirements. The state uses a table that considered your household size and income to determine eligibility. You can use this table to see if you qualify.
Your household includes you and everyone else who lives in your home and purchases and prepares meals together. Children under the age of 22 always count as a member of your household, even if they prepare their own food. Elderly (60+) and disabled people count as members as long as you buy/make food together. If they purchase and prepare their own food, they do not count as a household member.
It is important to note that there may be people who live in your home, such as tenants, who purchase and prepare their own food. While they may live in your house, they aren’t considered a household member for SNAP purposes.
Determining how much your monthly benefit is can get complicated. The amount is calculated by your household size and income, which sounds straightforward. However, the amount of your income that is considered can be reduced due to deductions.
To determine your benefit amount, which is called your allotment, multiply your total net monthly income (your net income is essentially your take-home pay after taxes and other deductions) 0.3. The 0.3 multiplier is because it is expected that you will spend 30% of your income on food. This amount is then subtracted for the maximum allotment amount for your household size.
The household sizes and maximum monthly amounts are as follows:
- 1 person: $204
- 2 people: $374
- 3 people: $535
- 4 people: $680
- 5 people: $807
- 6 people: $969
- 7 people: $1,071
- 8 people: $1,224
- Each additional person: $153
These are the maximum amounts for the household size. How much you actually get considers the 30% of your own money you are expected to spend and deductions. Once that amount is determined, then the following deductions are made, resulting in the final income that is used to calculate your benefit amount:
- Standard deduction: accounts for unavoidable costs and other basic expenses and is available to everyone
- Earnings deduction: this can be up to 20% of your earnings to pay for things such as payroll taxes, uniforms, and other work-related expenses
- Dependent care deduction: if you have to pay for child care or other dependent expenses to work, you can deduct them
- Child support deduction
- Medical expense deduction: if you spend more than $35/month on out-of-pocket medical expenses for a disabled or elderly household member
- Excess shelter deduction: available if your housing costs (including utilities) are more than 50% of your income after any other deductions are made (this deduction is limited to $586 unless at least one member of the household is elderly or disabled)
Most SNAP households claim the shelter deduction, while fewer households claim the earnings deduction. The dependent care, medical expenses, and child support deduction are claimed by less than 10% of SNAP households. When you apply for SNAP benefits, your application will gather all of this information so officials can determine which deductions you are eligible for.
What Does SNAP Include?
You can use SNAP benefits for any food or grocery items for your home, including:
- Dairy products like cheese or yogurt
- Fruits and vegetables
- Dry goods
- Beverages (non-alcoholic)
- Meat and poultry
In addition, you can use your SNAP benefits to purchase seeds or plants that grow food. There are some nutritional products, like Ensure, that also can be purchased with SNAP benefits, but supplements such as vitamins do not qualify.
You cannot purchase other things, including alcohol, medications, pet food, prepared foods meant for immediate consumption, cleaning supplies, paper products, household supplies, and hygiene items. These items would have to be paid for on your own or with cash benefits separate from SNAP.
How to Apply for SNAP Benefits in the State of SC
The best way to determine if you are eligible for SNAP benefits is to apply. In South Carolina, the easiest way to apply is to fill out an online application.
If you don’t have access to a computer or the Internet, you can also get a paper copy of the application at your local Department of Social Services (DSS) office. The paper application can be mailed, faxed, or dropped off at your nearest DSS location.
Once you apply, you will be given a number to call to schedule an interview. This interview can take place over the phone, and after the interview is completed, you will receive a decision on your eligibility within 30 days of your application filing date.
Are There Other Benefits I Qualify For?
If you are eligible for SNAP benefits, you might also qualify for other assistance programs.
If you are pregnant or have a child or children younger than 5 in your household, you may qualify for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC. WIC is meant to help pregnant women and young children get the healthy foods that they need.
The WIC program gives eligible participants vouchers for specific foods, including milk, yogurt, bread, eggs, cereal, juice, fruits and vegetables, canned fish, peanut butter, and other proteins. There are also vouchers available for infant formula.
In South Carolina, there is also the option to participate in the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, which provides WIC vouchers to be used at farmers’ markets to purchase South Carolina-grown fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs throughout the state.
Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) is another benefit that you may be eligible for. TANF provides cash assistance to families in need that have children under the age of 18. TANF does have a work requirement for adults and also provides employment assistance.
TANF benefits are cash benefits, so families can make decisions on how to spend those funds best. They are not restricted, but the debit card given to TANF recipients cannot be used at casinos, liquor stores, or businesses that provide adult entertainment where entertainers disrobe or perform unclothed in any way.
There are even programs out there to help low-income families find free or affordable home repair services. If you need help, do some research to see what’s available to you. You might be surprised at how many programs are out there.
Get the Assistance You and Your Family Need
Now that you know how to apply for SNAP benefits in the state of SC, it’s time to do what you need to do to support yourself and your family. Take advantage of these benefit programs to assist you in your time of need. SNAP will ensure that all members of your household get the food that they need to thrive.
Use our guide to educate yourself on the SNAP program, and don’t delay applying for benefits if you believe that you are eligible.