Snap Program Eligibility and Application Process

What Is the SNAP program? 

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), previously known as food stamps, is a system created to help those with low-income by providing them financial support to buy food. You are provided food assistance with an Electronic Benefits Transfer Card.  Although it is a program that runs on a federal level, there are agencies in every state that help people sign up at local offices.

So long as you are eligible for the benefits, you will receive aid until it expires. This will be every 6,12, or 24 months (depending on your circumstances). It is possible to renew the benefits again, but you will have to continue to show proof you meet requirements. 

SNAP Program Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for SNAP benefits, you need to start an application in the state you reside in and your income and meet income, work, and resource requirements. You will need to update this information every time you need to renew.

If you are homeless or a non-US citizen who has a qualified alien status, you also qualify for SNAP benefits. Women who are pregnant and meet the three requirements should apply for WIC benefits as well. 

If you think you may qualify for the SNAP program, you may also qualify for free wireless service from StandUp Wireless. You can check your eligibility now by clicking here.

Income Requirements 

You will need to meet net and gross income limits in order to qualify for benefits. You can determine what your income is by looking at your tax returns.

If you earn income from other programs, such as child support, the money you receive does not affect income requirements. You can still receive SNAP benefits while you earn income from child support or disability. 

Your household is automatically eligible for SNAP benefits if everyone has Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) aid. The income limits you need to meet vary from state to state and change each year. 

If you are curious to know whether or not you meet income requirements, you can look at this guide to determine the gross and net income you must meet to qualify based on how many people are in your household. You should not make more than $2,082 as a single person each month.

For every additional person, you can add $737 more. Anyone who lives or buys/makes food counts as a member of the household, including tenants. 

Work Requirements 

Those who are able-bodied without dependents and between 18-49 who are able to work but not employed may be eligible for SNAP, but are limited to 3 months of assistance within three years. To continue receiving benefits beyond this, you must either hold a job and earn an income at or less than income requirements.

If you do not have a job you must join in a qualifying education or training program at least 80 hours a month. You want to check your state to see if you must meet these work requirements. 

This limit is only applicable to those who are able-bodied without dependents. If you are not able to secure work due to mental or physical limitations, you are pregnant or are a primary caregiver for an incapacitated individual, you do not have to meet these work requirements. 

Resource Requirements

Resource requirements include valuables you own such as funds in your bank account. Each household is allotted about $2,000 or $3,500 if one person in the house is disabled or over 60 years old.

This amount is subject to change each year and also varies depending on the state you live in. Vehicles count as a resource and it is up to the state to determine how many vehicles count toward this if you own more than one. Certain assets such as your home are not included as a resource. 

Starting an Application

The SNAP program is available to all states in the US. Most people find completing the application can be complex and notice it’s easier to complete it at a local office. You can search for locations closest to you or start an application online by looking at the state directory

Whether you apply online or in person, you will need to complete an interview after the application. Those who apply online will receive a phone call and can set up an appointment for the best time.

Asides from the application and interview, you may also be asked to submit documentation to verify certain information: 

  • Proof of income from you and anyone else you add on the application 
  • Documentation of child support 
  • Identifying information (state ID, driver’s license, voter registration, birth certificate, school ID) 
  • Documentation of utility bills 
  • Rent receipts/mortgage payments 
  • Documentation showing how much you spend to care for dependants 
  • Medical bills for those over 60 or those receiving disability benefits 

When you finish your application you will know whether or not you are able to receive benefits within 30 days. In some cases, you may know within 7 days if you are eligible with expedited services. You may call about the status of your application if you do not hear or see any updates beyond 30 days. 

Those who qualify for SNAP may also qualify for other low-income assistance programs like Lifeline

Using SNAP Benefits 

You can use the benefits you receive on any food item such as fruits and vegetables, meat fish, dairy, bread, and cereal. You may also use SNAP to get snacks and non-alcoholic drinks or seeds and plants that produce food.

You CANNOT use benefits on alcoholic drinks, cigars, liquor, medicine, supplements, hot foods, live animals, cleaning supplies, hygiene supplies, pet food, or cosmetics. 

How much you are eligible to receive will depend on how many people are in your household. SNAP households are expected to spend 30% of their income on food. This calculation is used to create your monthly allotments. 

Get the Help You Need 

It’s not easy to struggle in order to make ends meet. This feeling is intensified for those who have others who depend on them. There are programs available like SNAP benefits to help families in need by helping you pay for food. 

When you meet SNAP program eligibility requirements, you can also get other forms of help from the government. You can also apply for free monthly phone service online or contact us for assistance and questions.