How to apply for SNAP Benefits
If you are looking to apply for food stamps, then you will need to select your state below as the process differs from state to state. In most cases, you would need to visit your local welfare office and fill out an application and submit it. However some states also allow you to apply for food stamps online. From there you may be required to do a face to face interview so an agent can determine if you qualify for SNAP and ask any additional questions they may need to be answered to make a final decision. We recommend you call your welfare office ahead of time and ask them what information you should bring with you so that it wont delay the application process.
If you are in need of assistance right away, you may qualify for emergency food stamps. It just depends on your current situation. Once you are approved, you will be mailed a EBT card that allows you to visit a local grocery store that accepts food stamps and purchase food with your card. To find out what you can buy, foods you can purchase with your food stamps. To find out the process to apply for SNAP benefits, select your state below.
EBT stands for Electronic Benefits Transfer. Welfare programs such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants and Children) use this system to distribute funds to people who are enrolled into these programs electronically. Each month enrollees will receive these funds on a device called an EBT card. This card allows you to purchase groceries at stores that are approved to accept these benefits.
If you meet the states requirements for the food stamp program, then you can begin the SNAP application process. The only way to receive a food stamps EBT card is to complete all requirements when applying for benefits. Though it may seem there are a lot of requirements up front, the process should be doable if applicants properly prepare for the requirements needed for each step in the application process.
Once you have an understanding on how to apply for food stamps, applicants will have a greater chance of obtaining EBT cards that will help make their grocery costs more affordable throughout the month.
EBT card, what is it?
For people wondering what is an EBT card, more than likely you probably have already seen an EBT card being used at your local grocery store at checkout and not even know. These cards are pretty much like a debit card that you would normally obtain at your bank. The EBT card number is shown on the front of the plastic card, then on the back there is a magnetic strip that the person would use to swipe at checkout through the SNAP approved stores point of sale system.
Each month the states SNAP program distributes the funds on the EBT card for each recipient who receive these benefits. The date of payment each month varies from state to state. It could be based on your last name, birth date and or social security number.
The funds are sent electronically, so they are instantly sent to the recipients account for use right away. Using an EBT card also makes it easier for recipients to secure any balances they have remaining on their account if by chance it has been stolen or lost.
Eligibility requirements for food stamps
Before learning how to obtain an EBT card, an applicant first must be able to meet their states food stamps enrollment requirements. Because of this, program cards will only be distributed to low-income families or single person households that are in need of financial assistance, which allows them to purchase affordable healthy foods. The food stamp eligibility requirements differ from state to state. However, there are some general guidelines an applicant must maintain, this includes:
Residency and citizenship
Applicants must be legal residents in the states where they are applying for food stamps. Additionally, candidates also need to be documented immigrants or U.S. citizens before they may qualify for SNAP.
Earned income and assets
All states impose specific income requirements for food stamps that claimants must meet. Since SNAP is only available to low-earning families, petitioners need to earn less than a specific amount of income to qualify for funding. Additionally, candidates must also be sure that they meet their state’s asset requirements. This prerequisite takes into account the amount of funds the claimants have in investments or savings and bank accounts.
Petitioners who qualify as able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD) need to meet work requirements for food stamps. Usually, these claimants need to be working a minimum of 80 hours per month or participating in approved training programs for particular amounts of time. Applicants who do not meet these requirements may only collect SNAP for three months during a three-year period.
Submitting a food stamp application
Once you are ready to enroll in this program, you must file a state-specific food stamp application. There are multiple ways that an applicant can file their application materials. Depending on the state you are applying in, potential candidates may submit their application to their local welfare office by one of the following methods:
- Mailing, hand deliver or faxing your application to the welfare office
- Completing an online application through the states portal system
- Applying over the phone with an agent at a local welfare office
If you plan to apply by mail, fax or in person, then in most states they will have a document you can download in the language of your choice. The document will have instructions and a form of the information they need from you in order to determine if you are eligible for SNAP benefits in your state. You can also call your welfare office and request they mail the documents to you directly or if the office is close by, you can drive there and apply in person.
In some states you can create an online account, log into the states portal system and fill out an application electronically and submit it to the states food stamp office. If additional information is needed to help determine if you are eligible for SNAP benefits, they will respond to your online application with what they need from you.
I have an EBT card interview, what do I need to bring with me?
Whichever way you decide to fill out and submit your food stamp application, you will then need to do a face to face interview with an agent at your local welfare office. This interview is used to determine if you are approved for food stamps and how much you will receive each month while on the SNAP program. Each interview is unique and the questions the agent asks can vary from case to case, depending on the information the applicant provides with their food stamp application. To help better prepare for this interview, we list the following general documents you should plan to bring with you:
- Qualifying deductions, such as utility bills
- Employment or training enrollment
- Citizenship and Social Security Numbers (SSN)
- Household resources and savings
- Pay stubs
- License, or state identification
If by chance you were denied benefits, the claimant has the right to appeal the decision. In most cases the applicant has up to 90 days to file the request for appeal. In some states, you can submit the appeal through their online portal system. If this is not an option, then applicants should write a letter to their local welfare office requesting they reconsider their food stamps application.
Though some states may allow you to verbally file their appeals request, it is recommended to at least submit a paper version of your request so there is proof that this step was completed. Applicants who appeal the SNAP food stamps denials in writing may send their petition to the local office through email, postal mail or by fax.
Is it required to renew my EBT card?
For some states the EBT card for someone enrolled in the food stamps program may expire. The expiration date is printed on the front of the card, just like you would normally see on a credit card or debit card. Usually a SNAP official will mail out a new card to food stamps recipients around the time their current EBT card is set to expire. Claimants though need to be aware that the cards validity is not the same as their SNAP enrollment period.
So just because your EBT card is still valid, doesn’t mean your SNAP benefits are still active. Recipients should be aware they need to re-apply for food stamps when their current claims have expired. To complete this step, they will need to fill out a new application with their SNAP case worker and follow the application process thoroughly.