SNAP Benefits: How to Apply, How to Receive and More

Tom Werner/DigitalVision via Getty Images

SNAP Benefits: How to Apply, How to Receive and More

SNAP Benefits: How to Apply, How to Receive and More

For those in need of food assistance
SNAP Benefits: How to Apply, How to Receive and More

Tom Werner/DigitalVision via Getty Images

The Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, is a federal program that helps low-income families purchase groceries. According to Feeding America, there are 9.5 million American families with children on SNAP. The program is meant to provide families in need with their basic nutritional needs. But how do you know if you qualify for the program?

What is SNAP?

What is SNAP?

MoMo Productions/DigitalVision via Getty Images

The purpose of the SNAP is to provide nutritional options to families in need of food assistance. It may be called a different name in some states — in Kansas, for example, this program is known as the Food Assistance Program.

What is EBT?

What is EBT?

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images News via Getty Images

Electronic Benefits Transfer, or EBT, is an electronic system that allows users to authorize transfers of government benefits from a federal account to a retailer account to pay for items. Those who are part of the SNAP program can use an EBT card to make food purchases at the grocery store. EBT is used in all 50 states, as well as in Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.

How do you apply for SNAP?

How do you apply for SNAP?

Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision via Getty Images

If you think you are eligible for the SNAP program, you have to apply for the program in the state you currently live in. You or a member of your household must contact your state agency to apply because each state has a different application form and process that you will need to go through.

Where can you find your state’s information?

Where can you find your state’s information?

MoMo Productions/DigitalVision via Getty Images

To get more information, contact your local SNAP office or check for information online. However, if you don’t have internet access or are unable to go to the office, the program allows you to authorize another person as your representative to apply and be interviewed on your behalf. But you must authorize the representative in writing.

What happens after you apply?

What happens after you apply?

MoMo Productions/DigitalVision via Getty Images

After you apply for SNAP benefits, your state agency or local SNAP office will process your application and let you know, in most cases within 30 days, whether or not you are eligible for the benefit. During those 30 days, you will be asked to complete an in-person or telephone interview and to provide proof of the information you submitted. If you meet all of the requirements, you will typically receive your benefits based on the date you submitted your application.

How to determine whether you’re eligible

How to determine whether you’re eligible

MoMo Productions/DigitalVision via Getty Images

To be eligible, there are some basic rules you need to fulfill, such as being a U.S. citizen or a qualified lawful resident, having proper identification and making a list of people who live and eat in your household. Depending on which state you’re in, income eligibility may differ. Most SNAP eligibility rules apply to all households, but there are some special rules for households with elderly or disabled members. According to the USDA, 60 years or older is considered elderly in regards to SNAP. Under SNAP guidelines, someone is considered disabled if they meet one of six criteria listed at fns.usda.gov/snap. That includes receiving state disability, disability retirement benefits from a governmental agency and more.

How do you receive SNAP benefits?

How do you receive SNAP benefits?

zorandimzr/iStock via Getty Images

If you are eligible for SNAP benefits, you will receive an EBT card, which you can use like a debit card to buy groceries at food stores or other retailers that accept the benefits. Each month, your benefits will be automatically loaded on to your account.

How long do your benefits last?

How long do your benefits last?

Tom Werner/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Once you become eligible for SNAP benefits, you enter a certification period. This period can range from one month to a few years because benefits vary from household to household. Most households will receive a period of three or six months before they have to renew, but it is all based on your needs. Before your period is over, you will be notified to recertify.

Who is considered part of a SNAP household?

Who is considered part of a SNAP household?

10'000 Hours/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Everyone who lives, buys and prepares meals together is considered one SNAP household. This includes spouses and most children under the age of 22, even if they purchase and prepare meals separately. However, if an elderly person, 60 years or older, is unable to purchase or prepare meals separately due to a permanent disability, then the person and their spouse may be in a separate SNAP household if the others in the home don’t bring in much income.

Are there income limits?

Are there income limits?

PeopleImages/E+ via Getty Images

To be eligible, a household must meet both the gross and net income limits in most cases. The gross income is the household’s total, non-excluded income before deductions. The net income is determined by the gross income minus deductions. For a two-person household, in the contiguous 48 states and Washington, D.C., the gross monthly income limit is $1,832 and the net monthly income limit is $1,410. The two states that differ are Alaska and Hawaii.

How much can you receive in SNAP benefits?

How much can you receive in SNAP benefits?

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Your SNAP benefits amount is determined by your household income and size. Households are expected to spend about 30% of their resources on food, so the total amount of benefits is calculated by multiplying your household’s net monthly income by 0.3 and subtracting the result from the maximum monthly total depending on your household size.

For 48 states and Washington, D.C, the maximum monthly allotment is the same, but it’s different in Alaska, Guam, Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For example, in the 48 states and D.C., the maximum monthly allotment for a one-person household is $194, while in Hawaii, it is $356.

Are there work requirements?

Are there work requirements?

Georgijevic/E+ via Getty Images

The work requirements to be eligible for SNAP benefits include registering for work, not voluntarily quitting a job or reducing hours without a good reason, taking a suitable job if offered and participating in employment and training programs if assigned by your state SNAP agency.

Some able-bodied individuals without dependents may be required to work or participate in a work program for at least 20 hours per week to receive SNAP benefits for more than three months in a 36-month period, but there are some exceptions.

Can students qualify for SNAP benefits?

Can students qualify for SNAP benefits?

Tom Werner/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Some students who are enrolled less than half-time in an institution of higher education may be eligible for SNAP if they also meet all other requirements. However, students who attend college more than half-time or part-time are not eligible unless they meet certain exemptions and meet all other SNAP requirements. A few exemptions include being 17 years old or younger or 50 years old or older, having a disability, and working at least 20 hours a week in paid employment.

Are non-citizens eligible for SNAP benefits?

Are non-citizens eligible for SNAP benefits?

Tom Werner/DigitalVision via Getty Images

The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 limits eligibility to U.S. citizens and certain lawfully present non-citizens. In order for non-citizens to qualify for SNAP, they generally must meet criteria such as having lived in the U.S. for at least five years, be receiving disability-related benefits, or be a child under 18. And they must also satisfy other SNAP requirements such as income limits.

What you can and can not buy with SNAP benefits

What you can and can not buy with SNAP benefits

Tom Werner/DigitalVision via Getty Images

There are some limitations as to what you are allowed to buy using your SNAP benefits. You can use your benefits to buy food products including fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, non-alcoholic beverages and more. But you are not allowed to use your benefits to purchase alcohol, cigarettes, vitamins, supplements or non-food items such as pet food, cleaning products and more. If you’re not eligible to apply for the SNAP program, here are some tips to help you save money while you’re grocery shopping online.

More from The Active Times:

Coronavirus Unemployment: How Each State Has Been Affected

Unemployed Due to Coronavirus? Here’s How to Get Health Insurance

How To Save Money While in Coronavirus Quarantine

Laid Off Due to Coronavirus? Here Are 15 Things You Should Do

Coronavirus and the Economy: The US States Most At-Risk