What is the SNAP program and how do I apply for SNAP?
When someone wants to apply for food stamps, they really are trying to apply for SNAP, which is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program). It is the nation’s most important anti-hunger program. In 2013, it helped more than 47 million low-income Americans to afford a nutritionally adequate diet in a typical month. Any United States citizen that meets the low income criteria can apply for SNAP online for free.
What are Food Stamps and how do I apply for Food Stamps?
The Food Stamp Program is a program created by the US federal government to provide food to people with low income. Food stamps have been in use since 1939, and they were created by former Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace. At the beginning, they were used to allow people to buy farm surpluses that otherwise were going to waste. The program lasted until 1943, when surplus were not longer a problem. After that, a different food program was created. Applicants can apply for Food Stamps for free at their local SNAP office.
SNAP benefits are given to you each month on a plastic card called an EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card, which works like a debit card. Paper coupons are no longer used.
SNAP is a nutrition program. It is not a welfare cash assistance program (which is called TAFDC). You do not have to be receiving TAFDC to get SNAP — these are separate programs.
What is a Link Card?
Anyone approved to receive cash assistance or SNAP (Food Stamps) benefits will be issued a Link card. The Illinois Link card is a plastic card that looks and works like a debit card. If you are eligible for cash and SNAP benefits, you will access both with the same card. Only one Link Card is issued per case.
What is TANF
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a program that provides cash assistance and supportive services to assist families with children under age 18, helping them achieve economic self-sufficiency.
Children under 18 who are living with their parent(s) or relative such as a grandparent, aunt, uncle etc., who meet specific criteria and whose countable family monthly income meets the following income guidelines.
How does the Division of Family Resources determine the amount of cash assistance?
A review is done of all the income available to meet the needs of the family. Some of the types of income considered are wages, unemployment benefits, Social Security benefits and child support. Available income is compared to a need standard. The need standard is based on the family size.
May a family have any real or personal property?
A family may not possess assets valued in excess of $1,000 at the time application for assistance is made. The house, which is the usual residence, is exempt.
What happens after the application is filed?
A decision will be made to grant assistance within 60 days of the date of application, unless there is a valid reason that prevents DFR from making a decision. For applicants not meeting all conditions of eligibility, a decision to deny assistance will be made no later than 61 days after the date of application. Remember, a TANF application and a low income housing application, are two very different things.
How much is the TANF cash assistance payment?
Payments vary based on the family’s countable monthly income up to the maximum allowable amounts listed in the following charts.
How and where does one apply for Food Stamps (SNAP)
State public assistance agencies run the program through their local offices. The following basic rules apply in most States, but a few States have different rules.
The amount of SNAP benefits you can get is based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Thrifty Food Plan, which is an estimate of how much it costs to buy food to prepare nutritious, low-cost meals for your household. This estimate is changed every year to keep pace with food prices.
In SNAP, a household is normally a group of people who live together and buy food and prepare meals together. If your household passes the program’s eligibility tests, the amount of SNAP benefits you get will depend on the number of people in your household and on how much monthly income is left after certain expenses are deducted.
SNAP benefits help supplement an individual’s or a family’s income to help buy nutritious food. Most households must spend some of their own cash along with their SNAP benefits to buy the food they need.
To apply for benefits or for more information about SNAP, contact your local SNAP office. The local office may be listed under “Human Resources,” “Social Services,” “Food Stamps” or Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT)” in the State or local government pages of the telephone directory. You may also call SNAP’s toll free line at 1-800-221-5689, or your State’s toll free information line or go to your State’s web site. Many States have a locator on the web site that will tell you where the nearest office is. You can use our online pre-screening tool to find out if you might be eligible for SNAP benefits and how much you might receive in benefits. The pre-screening tool is private and easy-to-use. It is available in English and Spanish. If the pre-screening tool says you may be eligible for SNAP benefits, you still need to fill out an application and submit it to your local SNAP office if you want to apply for SNAP benefits.
Applying for SNAP Benefits
How to get a paper application – You may ask for an application in person from the SNAP office, over the phone, or by mail. You can also ask someone else to get one for you. The SNAP office will give you an application form on the same day you ask for one. You can also download a State application at: SNAP State applications or directly from your State’s website. States should have their applications in every language in which they make a printed application available. This will enable you to print the application, fill it out, and send it to your local SNAP office right away.
How to turn in a paper application – You can take, send, or mail the form to the SNAP office. Some States accept faxed or e-mail applications. The office will accept the form on the same day you turn it in, even if they cannot interview you on that day.
How to apply on-line – Some States accept applications on-line. You can find out if your state has an on-line application at: State on-line applications or you can access your State’s website to find out if you can apply online.
How to apply by telephone – If your State develops a way to apply by telephone, their website or telephone system will let you know how to do this.
What information to provide – To begin applying, fill in your name, address, telephone number, and as much other information as you can. If you are turning in a paper application form, sign it. If you are applying on-line or by telephone, follow your State’s instructions.
Accurate information – All of your answers must be complete and honest. If you knowingly give false information or intentionally fail to report required information, you may incur substantial penalties, including fines, imprisonment, and removal from the program.
The sooner you get the form in to the office, the sooner you can get your benefits, if you are eligible. If you qualify for SNAP benefits, you will get them no later than 30 days from the date the office got your application. If your household has little or no money and needs help right away, you may be able to get SNAP benefits within 7 days.
After you have turned in your application, the SNAP office will contact you to set up an interview to go over your application. A SNAP worker will explain the program rules and help you complete any parts of the application that you have not filled out. The worker will also ask you for proof of certain information you have given. Ask the worker to explain anything you don’t understand. It’s important that you understand the rules.
If you and everyone you live with are applying for or getting Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you may apply for SNAP benefits in your Social Security district office. (This does not apply in California, where people who receive SSI benefits get cash instead of SNAP benefits).
Households that apply for benefits under SNAP may also be able to apply for public assistance and, in some locations, State or local general assistance at the same time.
Meeting Eligibility Rules and Providing Proof That You Are Eligible
Listed below are some of the basic rules and the kinds of proof you may need during your interview. Your case may be completed faster if you bring the proof with you to the interview.
If you have trouble getting papers (documents) or information you need, the worker may be able to help you. If the papers are not easy to get, you may give the name of someone, such as your employer, who can confirm your statements.
Citizenship Status: U. S. citizens and many non-citizens are eligible for the program. For a complete list of the special requirements for non-citizens, go to our immigrant policy page. Even if some members of the household are not eligible, those who are may be able to get SNAP benefits.
Find low income housing listings and opportunities in these areas with your Online Packet:
Anchorage, Alaska | Phoenix, Arizona | Little Rock, Arkansas | Los Angeles, California
Denver, Colorado | Bridgeport, Connecticut | Delaware
District of Columbia | Jacksonville, Florida | Atlanta, Georgia | Honolulu, Hawaii | Boise, Idaho
Chicago, Illinois | Indianapolis, Indiana | Des Moines, Iowa | Wichita, Kansas | Louisville, Kentucky | New Orleans, Louisiana
Portland, Maine | Baltimore, Maryland | Boston, Massachusetts | Detroit, Michigan | Minneapolis, Minnesota
Jackson, Mississippi | Billings, Montana | Las Vegas, Nevada | St. Louis, Missouri | Manchester, New Hampshire | Jersey City, New Jersey | Albuquerque, New Mexico | New York | Raleigh, North Carolina | Sioux’s, North Dakota | Cleveland, Ohio
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | Portland, Oregon | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | Columbia, South Carolina
Memphis, Tennessee | Houston, Texas | Salt Lake City, Utah | Montpelier, Vermont | Seattle, Washington
Charleston, West Virginia | Milwaukee, Wisconsin | Cheyenne, Wyoming