Eating is an essential part of living, but when individuals are struggling financially, affording food can be a challenge. Many American families find themselves deciding to pay for housing expenses and other bills rather than purchasing groceries. This is why the federal government established a food assistance program to help people who need it. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal program that can assist eligible families in need.
Most people refer to SNAP as food stamps, which offer nutritional assistance to qualifying low-income families. This includes households, elderly citizens, people with disabilities, and much more. Even though this program helps a wide range of people, a majority of those who receive assistance are households with kids.
This is a government support opportunity which means that the government funds the program. The government divides the expenses of the program with state governments (since the states are responsible for managing the program). If the recipient is allowed to get SNAP benefits, they can get an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card that gets money monthly. Recipients can use these funds at locations that allow this as a form of payment. If you are eligible for this assistance option, you will know how long you will receive benefits.
SNAP Eligibility Requirements
Many Americans appreciate the assistance they get from SNAP. This is because it makes it easier to deal with food expenses. Typically, you need to remember that eligibility requirements and benefit levels are widely set across the United States. States can update portions of SNAP as well as manage the program.
If you want to review your eligibility, you will need to reach out to your state agency. They are the ones that define whether or not you are eligible to get SNAP assistance. These applications are free of charge, which means there’s nothing to lose when you apply! If the program approves your application, you will get benefits back from the date that you presented your application. This means that the sooner you apply, the better! Although states define eligibility, you can assume to see that the most in-need recipients are a top priority. Extremely low-income families will receive more support than families that are less low-income.
Disqualifying for SNAP is an important aspect to remember because it might be relevant to your current situation. Individuals might think they are ineligible without checking the facts. This is because most college students, some legal immigrants, and people on strike because of a labor dispute cannot get this assistance option, regardless of their income level.
Even if you think you might not qualify, it is still worth it to apply! The applications are free and the worst thing that can happen for you is that you do not qualify to get benefits.
Similar to any federal program, there are limitations on benefits that families can get. However, every situation is different so you need to verify the status for yourself. To do that, you should reach out to a professional! A restriction you might experience is that a majority of childless individuals can get up to three months of benefits unless they work a minimum of 20 hours per week or take part in qualifying programs. Additionally, state governments can decide to add other restrictions, employment requirements, guidelines, etc. when it comes to SNAP benefits.
How Much Could You Be Able to Receive?
An allotment refers to the SNAP benefits that you can get. Typically, the main factor that the program takes into consideration when calculating allotments are that recipients must only spend 30% of their own income on groceries. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a great table that explains the maximum benefit amount that a family can receive.
Applying for SNAP Benefits
As we mentioned above, state governments operate the program. This means that some states have different application processes. That is why you should apply for SNAP in the state that you live in now. To start the application process, you will need to contact your state agency. You can do this in a few different ways. You can:
- Take a visit to your local SNAP office
- Visit your state agency’s website
- Make a phone call to your state’s SNAP toll-free number
It depends on your state, but there is a possibility that you can fill out an online application rather than a physical application. You need to make sure to look through your options when you start the application process.
Once you apply, you will know whether or not you qualify to get benefits within 30 days. Within the time that the program processes your application, you will need to go through an eligibility interview and offer income verification. This will ensure that the details you presented on your application were accurate. Interview protocol differs from one state to another, but the interview can take place in person or on the phone.
Some people might get benefits sooner than that 30-day mark. Instead, some recipients might be able to get SNAP assistance within seven days of the date on their application if they can meet other qualification requirements.
The Bottom Line
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a common assistance program that can help many individuals who go through financial hardship. Although it is a federal program, states are responsible for managing it. This means that you will need to contact your state’s agency to start the application process. You can assume to receive your application status within 30 days. If the program approves your application, you will get a certain amount of money per month on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. The program automatically refills the card per month until your benefits expire. For any questions you might have, you can get in touch with your state’s agency. Make sure that you verify that you qualify for the program, rather than assuming. You never know what you might find out!
The information in this article is for Oct. 1, 2022, to Sept. 30, 2023.