Food Stamps (SNAP)

food stampsAccording to USDA data, about forty-seven million people in the United States receive food stamps. The Federal Food Stamp Program, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/SNAP–has helped low income people and families to buy healthy food for more than forty years. SNAP food stamps help people with limited financial resources to stay healthy.

Low income or part-time workers, elderly or disabled people without financial resources, homeless individuals and families, welfare recipients or those who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) may be eligible for food stamps. The SNAP Eligibility Pre-Screening Tool makes it easy to for an applicant to determine if he or she is eligible to receive food stamp benefits. Most households who received food stamps last year had at least one child or a disabled or elderly family member. The average monthly food stamp benefit last year declined to $256 from $274 the prior year.

How to Apply for SNAP Food Stamps

SNAP is a program of the U.S. government but it is administered by local or state agencies. Applicants can apply for SNAP food stamps at the local Social Security office, a SNAP office, or online. A disabled person or anyone who cannot apply in person may send an authorized representative to apply for assistance on his or her behalf.

Employed people should bring the four most recent paycheck stubs or a letter from their employer which states the past month’s net wages. Unemployed people must prove that they are not working. If an individual or household member is receiving unemployment benefits, he or she must bring unemployment claim records to the SNAP food stamps interview. If the applicant cannot appoint a representative because of infirmity or advanced age, program administrators may waive the in-person interview. In that case, the local office will arrange a phone interview or home visit instead.

Asset Requirements

People who receive food stamps have little cash on hand. They have few bank accounts or saleable belongings, such as vehicles. Some financial resources, such as a home or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), may not disqualify the needy individual or family from receiving food stamps.

Applicants should bring bank account information to the SNAP food stamps appointment, including savings, checking, financial securities, annuities, and credit union accounts. Financial information about each member of the household is required. Each household member must also provide his or her social security number.

Families and individuals applying for SNAP food stamps should provide a copy of last year’s federal and state income tax returns. College students should submit a budget statement as proof of education costs, including any earnings, tuition, scholarships, loans or other contributions.

SNAP Food Stamps EBT Card

Today’s applicants may ask why the SNAP program is referred to as “food stamps.” The electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card allows the SNAP recipient to receive and use food benefits as he or she uses a debit or credit card to pay for food at the grocery store. There is no exchange or paper stamps or coupons.

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