SNAP- A help for Low-Income Families and Individuals

By: Sopia L., Assistancefinder
Published Feb 26, 2020 8:10:30 AM

More than 28 million people a month benefit from SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP has been serving low-income individuals and families for over 40 years by giving them the resources to put food on the table for their families when they are struggling to do so on their own.

Eligibility for Food Stamps from SNAP

To be eligible for food assistance, you must meet the income requirements of the program. Other resources, such as vehicles and bank accounts, are included in the eligibility requirements. Certain resources will not count when applying, such as SSI, TANF, and retirement plans. Individuals who are working for low wages, are working part-time or are unemployed, are disabled, elderly and/or homeless may all be eligible to receive food stamps.

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You can use the SNAP Eligibility Pre-screening tool to find out if you and your household is eligible for SNAP food stamps.

How to Apply for Assistance

SNAP is a federally-funded government program. However, each state or local agency is in charge of running it. Apply for SNAP food stamps by visiting your local Social Security, Welfare, or SNAP office. Don’t worry if you cannot make it to the office. You can have another person apply on your behalf, known as an authorized representative. You must designate this person in writing if you need them to apply on your behalf. You may also fill out the application online instead of in person.

In most cases, applicants will need to fill out the initial application, schedule a face-to-face interview, and provide their income and expense verification. If you cannot get to the office and do not have an authorized representative, a telephone or home interview may be scheduled for you instead.

What You Need to Bring When Applying

• Last four pay stubs from your employer or a letter from them proving your net and gross wages for the last month
• Proof that you were terminated from your last job, if currently unemployed. You will also need any identification and claim cards received from unemployment benefits
• Proof of all household resources- you will need to bring in any checking and/or savings account statements, your checkbook, savings certificates, stocks, bonds, and other resources
• Copy of your tax return for the year before
• Social Security number for you and everyone you are applying for
• Education expenses if you are a student (tuition, loans, scholarships, earnings, contributions)
• Any utility bills you pay
• Assets, such as your vehicle

Food Stamp EBT Card

Food stamps got their name because they used to be printed on multi-colored paper known as stamps, with each stamp designated a specific value. They are now delivered to users on a SNAP EBT card that works much like a bank debit card. The customer will swipe the card after given the balance of their transaction, enter their personal four-digit identification number, and follow any instructions on the point-of-sale device. The amount will then be automatically deducted from the SNAP account. The card may be used in any grocery store that accepts SNAP, regardless of what state the card was issued in.
If your card is lost, damaged or stolen, contact the state SNAP office immediately.

What Can Be Bought with SNAP Benefits

SNAP food benefits are to be used for food and for seeds and/or plants that can be used to grow food for your home. You cannot use SNAP benefits to buy the following:

• Nonfood items, such as paper products, toothpaste, grooming items, soap, pet foods and cosmetics.
• Tobacco or alcohol
• Medicines or vitamins
• Ready-to-eat food

Employment and Food Stamps

Most participants in the SNAP program can and do work. However, over 65% of all recipients are disabled, seniors, or non-working children. SNAP recipients must meet work requirements unless they can show they are exempt due to their age, disability or other specific reason.

Always remember to report any changes in household size, assets or income. These changes may affect your benefits. Failure to report changes to your local office could result in being cut-off from the program.

Additional Information Concerning SNAP

The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services offers more information on food stamps and SNAP. Visit their Questions and Answers page to learn more.

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