No matter how much you keep up with the proper paperwork, maintain your records with your caseworker, or try to maintain your food stamp benefits there are times when food stamps may be denied.
A few years ago there was a general outcry about food stamps, which gave the hunger solution a bit of a stigma. In sight of this, the federal government came up with a name that was suitable for states to use to describe a food assistance program, instead of food stamps. The new name became Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. The program was generally the same in each state, just a new name. SNAP is a federal program administered by the US Department of Agricultural and managed by the state department in your area, usual under social services or a welfare program. There are some facts about SNAP that are really important and can honestly help you when you’re applying for food stamps, especially if you're not sure of your eligibility.
This is one of the most common questions in regard to SNAP. Basically, you have to have a very low income to be eligible for food stamps. Typically, people are unemployed, disabled, senior citizens, retired with no or low pension or social security income, working but earning low wages, supporting multiple dependents on a low income, or students in post-secondary schools. You also have to be a U.S. citizen or a certain type of non-citizen with little to no income. For non-citizens, you must be a legal immigrant who is disabled and receiving disability benefits.
In general, there were income limits instituted to keep some types of families from collecting too many food stamp benefits. The income limit for most households is 185% of the Federal Poverty Level with no net income or asset limit. Households with an elderly are a little different. Elderly which is 60 or over or disabled members do not have to meet a gross income limit. Instead, shelter, medical and other qualifying expenses are deducted from gross income. If the gross income of an elderly or disabled household is below 185% FPL, the net income after allowable deductions cannot be more than 100% FPL, and they cannot have more than $3,250 in countable assets.
Including your income, your assets will also be counted. Not all of your assets will count towards your asset limit, such as your car. The value of a house a person owns and lives in is not counted and a lien is not placed on a home either. These were some common myths with asset restrictions. Elderly or disabled households with gross income over 185% FPL is $3,250. There is no asset limit if gross income is at or below this FPL percentage.
In most states, you can find the application online, whether to download or fill out completely over the Internet. You can actually use FoodStamps.org and go to the map, click on your state and find the information exactly researched for your state, including links to the application and numbers for you to call in case you have questions for your state's SNAP program. If you are disabled, you can always call to request that an authorized representative apply for food stamps for you. People who apply for or receive SSI can apply for SNAP at the Social Security office located near their residence.
There are some documents you’ll need to ensure your identity and citizenship, as well as your residence. You’ll need identification for yourself, proof of citizenship or refugee status, or a green card, if you are a legal immigrant. You’ll also need a proof of earned and unearned income. In addition, your dependents in the household or those living with you must also be accounted for. You will need their names, social security numbers and birth dates. Verification of shelter expenses, such as a rent receipt or lease; verification of out of pocket child and dependent care expenses; verification of court ordered child support payments; and elderly or disabled persons will need to prove out of pocket medical expenses.
It doesn’t take very long to apply online. If you do apply by mail, then it will take a little over a week. If you apply by phone, you could actually receive emergency aid within 24 hours or 7 days. If you are eligible on paper, you’ll need to go through an interview process over the phone or in person at a department office. During this part, you will need to bring all of your verification and identification. After you are approved, you'll receive a notice in the mail along with an EBT card or a debit card that you can use at participating grocers to purchase food.