HOW TO APPLY FOR SNAP BENEFITS

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eyecrave/Getty Images

Do you need to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)? Here’s what individuals and families need to know about SNAP eligibility, applying for SNAP, and what happens next Submit your SNAP request.

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What is SNAP?

Administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), SNAP is the largest federal nutrition assistance program in the United States.

A SNAP household is defined as everyone who lives together and buys and prepares meals together. This includes spouses and most children under the age of 22. In general, if an organization serves you most of your meals, you will not be eligible for SNAP benefits. However, there are exceptions for the elderly and the disabled.

Eligible low-income individuals and families may receive SNAP benefits through an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. This card can be used to purchase eligible family food from authorized food retailers.

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Do I qualify for SNAP?

In order to qualify for the SNAP program, individuals must be able to meet certain requirements. Applicants must live in the state in which they are applying for SNAP and meet certain income limits.

The SNAP Eligibility Resource Page Specifies a schedule of income eligibility limits for SNAP by family size. The family must meet the gross and net income limits shown in this table. Otherwise, the family is not eligible for the SNAP program and may not receive benefits. Only families with an elderly or disabled person are required to meet the net income limit. Families in which all of their members receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be considered definitively eligible for SNAP due to pre-determined eligibility for other programs tested.

There are also business requirements for SNAP eligibility. The four basic requirements are to register for work, not voluntarily leave the job or reduce hours, have a job if offered and participate in employment and training programs if hired by the state. Healthy adults without dependents are required to work at least 20 hours per week to receive SNAP benefits for more than three months in a 36-month period.

Special groups not subject to these requirements include children, the elderly, pregnant women, and individuals who are exempt for physical or mental reasons. Students ages 18 to 49 who are enrolled in college at least part-time are not eligible for the SNAP program unless they meet specific exemptions.

How do I apply for a SNAP?

SNAP applications must be submitted to the local state agency in the state in which you currently live. Your family member must contact the state agency directly to apply for a SNAP. Find your nearest local SNAP office by reviewing their interactive map SNAP Resource Status Guide. Please note that the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) does not process SNAP applications.

If you don’t have easy access to the Internet, you may find local state offices or local government pages for phone books. These offices may be listed under headings including “Food Stamps,” “Social Services,” “Human Services,” and “Public Assistance.” Find the address of your local state agency and visit the office or call the toll-free SNAP information hotline in your state.

What happens after I submit my SNAP request?

Once you submit your SNAP application, your state agency or local SNAP office will process it. You will receive a notification within 30 days of whether or not you qualify for SNAP benefits. Applicants will need to complete an eligibility interview over the phone or in person and submit a verification of the information on the application.

Eligible individuals will receive SNAP benefits based on the date of their application. SNAP benefits will be issued through an EBT card. This card acts as a debit card and automatically carries benefits into your account each month. You can use the EBT card at approved food stores and retailers to buy groceries.

Where can I find more information about SNAP?

Contact your local SNAP office if you have additional questions regarding SNAP benefits or your specific case information. You can also call the toll-free SNAP information hotline at 800-221-5689.

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This article originally appeared GOBankingRates.com: HOW TO APPLY FOR SNAP BENEFITS