Are you having trouble paying the bills with how expensive everything is these days? That’s completely normal, and you are not the only one with this struggle. Did you spend hours on the phone with your bank to find a way to pay your bills? You might even pore over your budget and financial documents to figure out how to meet your basic needs. Well, there might be a better option out there. You can look to the federal government for food assistance, which could take a financial load off. The federal government offers food assistance programs for those who need them. Some of these programs are:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- School Breakfast Program (SBP)
In this article we’re going to focus on SNAP and how it works, as well as which states are responsible for the program’s operation. Furthermore, you need to qualify to get benefits, which we will explain more about throughout the article. However, households with kids are the main target of the program. SNAP benefits are loaded onto Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards monthly to be used in specific supermarkets.
Qualifying for SNAP
To find out whether or not you qualify, the first place to check is with the SNAP agency in your state. They will be able to tell you whether you qualify or not and are responsible for receiving your application. The main benefit of SNAP is that it offers affordable grocery costs for its recipients. Applications are free, which is a great plus and means that you won’t lose anything when you apply. Furthermore, if SNAP approves your request to receive benefits, you will begin receiving them from the date of your application submission.
Typically, the eligibility criteria and levels of benefit are standard across the country, but states can change parts of the program. However, it is possible that you can be found ineligible for SNAP based on your current circumstances, no matter what level of income you fall within. We recommend applying either way because there are exceptions to the rule. Those who are ineligible regardless of income are the majority of students in college, certain legal immigrants, and people on strike because of a labor issue. Additionally, you should know that there is a general priority for families with the most need that fall in the extremely low-income category.
Typically, SNAP sets employment requirements for people to meet in order to get benefits. These requirements would be: not quitting or reducing working hours voluntarily; accepting a job offer (if applicable); taking part in an employment training program; and registering for employment. If a person does not meet these requirements, then they will not be able to qualify for SNAP.
You should also keep in mind that those who do not have dependents need to work or take part in an employment program for a minimum of 80 hrs a month . If they meet these requirements they can continue to receive benefits for longer than three months. If not, they will only be eligible to receive benefits for up to three months.
The Application Process for SNAP Benefits
It is possible to fill out an application online, but that is based on your state. Each state has its own version of SNAP, and that works for the application process too! If you want to start applying, then you should reach out to the SNAP agency in your state for assistance. After you send in your SNAP application, the program notifies you of your eligibility status within 30 days. However, during this time you can expect to go through an eligibility interview and prove your income. Furthermore, there are many ways to apply, including online, in person, and over the phone. When it comes to the interview, however, typically this is done either in person or over the phone.
SNAP Benefits: How Much to Expect?
How much you get depends on your current situation. If you want to know more, then the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers you this table for more information on the maximum benefit amount per household. SNAP typically calculates your benefits, or your allotment, according to the understanding that you will spend 30% of your earnings on grocery costs. Furthermore, you cannot spend your SNAP benefits on just anything in the supermarket. SNAP’s main goal is to provide nutritious food to its recipients. That means that you cannot buy alcohol/tobacco products and non-food items, among other things. You can buy fresh produce, meats of different kinds, dairy/grain products, and plants that produce food to eat.
Don’t Agree With SNAP’s Decision On Your Application? Here’s What To Do
Let’s say that you apply and submit your application, but SNAP refuses it. There is actually something you can do about it. If you want to dispute this decision, then you can submit a fair hearing request within three months of the SNAP decision. The hearing will take place with an official who is legally required to look through your case fairly and objectively. There are different ways to submit a request, which are over the phone, in person, and in writing.
Now that you know more about SNAP, you should definitely think about applying. If you get approval, then you can get benefits from the day you send in your application. You should keep in mind that the information in this article applies until September 30th, 2023. If you want to know more, then you should consider contacting the SNAP office in your state. You can also ask them how your EBT card would work if you qualify and get benefits.
How much benefit you get, or the allotment, depends on several aspects. That would include the size of your family, how much you earn, and so on. You will not be able to find out whether you qualify or not unless you actually take the plunge and apply! However, if you are not facing any nutritional struggle, then you can still find other assistance programs to help you out from the federal government. Whether it is healthcare or housing, there is a federal assistance program available to support you and your family!