Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program commonly known as SNAP is one of the largest federal food and nutrition assistance programs in the United States. The program aims to provide nutritional assistance to low-income or disabled individuals and households.
The program also assists eligible seniors in earning fixed or low wages. Each state has its guidelines as to how they administer the SNAP program whilst the federal government provides the funds.
Eligibility Requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
There are general eligibility requirements in applying for the SNAP program, which is set by the federal government. These requirements are uniform across the country, however, each state may still impose specific eligibility requirements so make sure to coordinate with your state’s local SNAP office to know if there are additional guidelines to follow.
Federal Government’s General Eligibility Criteria For Applicants
Listed below are the general eligibility criteria you must meet:
1. Must have an income at 130 percent or below the poverty line. This is equivalent to an income of 2,2379 US dollars every month within a household of 3 members (F.Y. 2021 - 2022). Every additional member of the family adds 492 US dollars to the income limit. Take note though that these criteria are not applied to households with an elderly or disabled.
2. Must have a net income equal to the poverty line or lower. This is equivalent to 1,830 US dollars every month within a household of 3 members (F.Y. 2019). Every additional member of the family adds 379 US dollars to the income limit.
3. Must meet specific limits in terms of one’s assets. For the federal guidelines, the resource limit is 2,500 US dollars which usually comes from bank or savings accounts. For households with an elderly or disabled, the resource limit is 3,750 US dollars.
Take note that the amount limit may vary depending on the state you are in since each state has the flexibility to adjust different aspects of the SNAP program.
Resources Not Counted in Eligibility Determination
The following are resources that are not counted in determining your eligibility:
• Your house or your lot;
• Your resources when you are receiving a Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
• Your resources when you are receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); and
• Your retirement pensions (there might be instances that this resource will fall under income or resources depending on how often you get to receive them).
Other Eligibility Requirements
There may be other eligibility requirements in applying for SNAP:
• Proof of identity;
• A resident of the state where you are applying; or
• Demonstrate the capability to work (the applicant is ready for employment).
Applying For Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
In applying for SNAP, the first step to take is to get your state’s local SNAP office contact information. Not sure where to get the information? You can go to https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/state-directory and tap or search the state where you reside to get access to the contact information.
Once you have the information you can apply either any of the following ways:
• By visiting your state’s local SNAP office - they may give you an application form that you must fill out and assist you with the process of your application;
• By visiting your state’s SNAP official website - some states may provide an online application form and you can accomplish your application within the website;
• By calling your state’s SNAP hotline - Call your state’s hotline and ask for details on your application process.
Each state has its application process and guidelines, that’s why it is best to apply directly to your state’s agency responsible for administering the program.
After Successful Application
After accomplishing your application either through walk-in, call, or online, you might wait approximately 30 days while the SNAP office processes your application.
You will eventually receive a notice informing you whether you are eligible or not for SNAP benefits. During the processing phase, expect to have an interview with staff from SNAP for verification of the information you submitted.
Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Card
Once determined eligible, you will be issued an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card that you can use for buying groceries in authorized stores within the country. This EBT card is like a debit card wherein the benefits you receive will be transferred to your account every month and use these benefits to buy basic nutritional needs like food and vitamins.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long can I receive SNAP benefits?
Once you are determined eligible to receive SNAP benefits, you will be informed about your certification period or the period/duration that you will receive benefits. If your certification period is nearing its end, your state’s local SNAP office will inform you that you need to recertify to continue receiving SNAP benefits as well as the steps you need to follow for recertification.
Are students also eligible for SNAP benefits?
Students who are 18-49 years old and are currently enrolled in college either whole or more than half-time are not eligible for SNAP benefits. Although there may be exemptions in some specific circumstances.
Can non-citizens also avail themselves of SNAP benefits?
Eligibility for SNAP benefits is limited only to citizens of the United States, although there may be instances that eligible non-citizens can avail of SNAP benefits. For non-citizens applying for SNAP benefits, they must meet either one of the following:
• Be living in the country for 5 years or more;
• Be a recipient of disability-assistance benefits; or
• Be 18 years old or below.
In addition to this, non-citizens are also required to meet the general eligibility criteria to receive SNAP benefits.
Are there any work requirements if I am receiving SNAP benefits?
Work requirements are also an important part of your SNAP benefits application. General work requirements include:
• You are currently registering for work;
• Taking a job offer;
• Does not voluntarily quit or reduce working hours; and
• Attending employment training programs (if required by the state).
The following are exempted from the working requirements of the program:
• Senior citizens;
• Pregnant women; and
• People with physical or mental disabilities that prevent them from working.
Where can I get additional information about SNAP?
If you want to know more about the SNAP program, have queries or concerns, you can visit your state’s local SNAP office to be guided accordingly.