Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Applying for SNAP Benefits | SNAP Allotment

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You may not have heard much about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program but you have definitely heard of Food Stamps and the program. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is an aid program in the United States of America. It is mostly targeted at the low-income citizens and also the no-income citizens of the country. This program helps to stretch a recipient’s food budget, encourage the recipient to eat healthy and nutritious food, and also educate a recipient on food nutrition and haw to prepare meals.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Related: SNAP – SNAP Benefits | SNAP Eligibility | SNAP Allotment | EBT

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can also be referred to as SNAP for shorts. It is the program that succeeded in the Food stamps programs. SNAP is still commonly known as Food Stamps in the United States of America. This program is a federal aid program that is administered by the Food and Nutrition Service, FNS, which is under the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA. The program is created to give the American citizens access to nutritious foods and pushing them to self-sufficiency.

This program also provides assistance for the aged mostly above sixty (60) years of age, the disabled who can barely earn an income, the mentally challenged people who cannot take care of themselves, and individuals or households who find it difficult to feed. To this, there are several benefits to the program one can receive.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was initially formed as the Food Stamps Program on the 16th of May, 1939. It was operated as a relief program for citizens to enable them access to food mostly in times of war or crisis in the country. The program then gave out stamps, which is where the name of the program coined from, which could be used to buy food. The stamps then gave in two types which are:

  • Orange stamps which can be used to buy any kind of staple food.
  • Blue stamps which can be used to buy food items that seem to be surplus.

The name Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was officially implemented in 2008. The changing of the names also affected the methods of accessing the benefits. This change brought about the use of EBT cards instead of food stamps and coupons. Now, the SNAP program uses only EBT cards in sending out benefits to eligible recipients.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has grown to become the biggest nutrition program amongst all the administered nutrition program of the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It has thousands of employees and is a key component of the social safety net for low-income Americans.

SNAP Benefits

There are several benefits to be received from the program. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is no longer restricted to just food benefits. Some of the benefits one can receive from the program are list out below;

  • SNAP food benefits give out benefits for food. This benefit can only be used to buy food items that are approved by the program.
  • SNAP cash benefits gives out cash that can be withdrawn from the cash benefit’s card and used to purchase items and services.
  • TANF cash help is aid given to families that are in dire need of help. TANF means Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Mostly, these families have children less than fifteen (15) years of age and/ or elderly persons of sixty years and above.
  • Support services is an assistance or benefit from the program that helps to render services of a caregiver usually to elderly people, to people battling with addiction, and also to people with mental issues.
  • Health care is a benefit that aids by giving access to some basic health care services to citizens who cannot afford it.
  • WIC benefit is the benefits targeted at women and children. It makes provisions for WOMEN, INFANTS, and CHILDREN with basic needs and information for a nursing mother. This benefit still gives assistance to children above the age of one.

These are some of the benefits one can get from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Also know that this program is not available to people outside the United States of America. a foreigner in the country can to an extent, receive benefits from the state. Mind you, there are certain requirements to meet before any person can receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

EBT

When talking about benefits and how it is being received, one cannot omit EBTs. EBT means Electronic Benefit Transfer. This is a system that uses magnetically encoded cards to carry benefits from the program to the recipient. This cards works exactly like a bank’s debit card would.

It authorizes transactions like withdrawals and payment for purchases of food items by transferring funds from the federal account to an approved store’s account and retailers account. The benefits are automatically loaded into the recipient’s EBT account monthly.

However, there are some items one cannot buy with the EBT card, in terms of using the food benefits. There are some prohibited items a recipient cannot purchase with the cards as it would nor validate the transaction. Here is a list of items one can purchase and what one cannot purchase with an EBT food benefits card.

Approved items are;

  • Cereals.
  • Breads.
  • Snack foods.
  • Non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Vegetables.
  • Dairy products.
  • Meat.
  • Poultry.
  • Fish.
  • Seeds and plants, which produce food for the household to eat.
  • Fruits.

Prohibited items are;

  • Medicines.
  • Vitamins supplements.
  • Prepared foods fit for instant consumptions (fast foods).
  • Hot foods.
  • Tobacco.
  • Liquor.
  • Wine.
  • Bear.
  • Cigarettes
  • Live animals. This is with the exception of shellfish, fish removed from the water and/ or animals slaughtered prior to pick up from the store.
  • Nonfood items like pet food, hygiene items, cosmetics, paper products, cleaning supplies, and other household supplies.

Every other item falls under the category of one of the above-mentioned items.

SNAP Eligibility

SNAP eligibility means to be qualified to receive benefits from the program. To become qualified for the benefits of SNAP, there are requirements one has to meet first. The requirements for every state in the U.S. are different from each other. Generally, here are some of the requirements for SNAP Benefits;

  • You are below 130% of the federal poverty line.
  • You must apply to your current state of residence
  • Your income monthly, before the tax deductions, as an individual or as a household must not exceed the maximum income allowed by the state.

Here is a sneak peek into the maximum monthly income allowed by the state paired ti the size of the household.

  • For a family of 1, the maximum income allowed is $1,354
  • For a family of 2, the maximum income allowed is $1,832
  • A family of 3, the maximum income allowed is $2,311
  • For a family of 4, the maximum income allowed is $2,790
  • For a family of 5, the maximum income allowed is $3,269
  • A family of 6, the maximum income allowed is $3,748
  • For a family of 7, the maximum income allowed is $4,227
  • For a family of 8 the maximum income allowed is $4,708
  • A family of 9, the maximum income allowed is $5,184
  • For a family of 10, the maximum income allowed is $5,663
  • For a family of 11, the maximum income allowed is $6,142
  • A family of 12, the maximum income allowed is $6,621
  • For a family of 13, the maximum income allowed is $7,100
  • For a family of 14, the maximum income allowed is $7,579
  • A family of 15, the maximum income allowed is $8,058
  • For a family of 16, the maximum income allowed is $8,537
  • For a family of 17, the maximum income allowed is $9,016
  • A family of 18, the maximum income allowed is $9,495
  • For a family of 19, the maximum income allowed is $9,974
  • For a family of 20 the maximum income allowed is $10,453
  • And for each additional member, an amount of $479 is added to the maximum income.

Apart from the applicant’s eligibility, stores and retailers also need to get eligibility from the program in order to be approved to accept EBT cards. For a store or retailer to become eligible, it must meet with certain requirements of the program. Requirements like;

  • Its major sales must come from staple foods
  • Co-location; if multiple firms operating in the same location meet certain criteria, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will consider them a single firm when determining eligibility.
  • Restaurants; a restaurant is not allowed by SNAP. A store is considered a restaurant over 50% of the total gross sales come from sales of hot or cold foods (fasts foods)
  • Need for access; how accessible is the store to areas where SNAP clients are located.

If the store can meet with all these requirements or at least most of it, it can become eligible by SNAP to receive SNAP payments.

SNAP Allotment

SNAP allotment refers to the amount of benefits that are being given out to eligible recipients by SNAP. The benefits given vary with the number of persons applying in the household. The maximum allotments given monthly per the size of the family from SNAP are stated below;

  • Maximum monthly allotment given is $194 for a family size of 1
  • Maximum monthly allotment given is $355 for a family size of 2
  • The Maximum monthly allotment given is $504 for a family size of 3
  • Maximum monthly allotment given is $646 for a family size of 4
  • Maximum monthly allotment given is $768 for a family size of 5
  • The Maximum monthly allotment given is $921 for a family size of 6
  • Maximum monthly allotment given is $1,018 for a family size of 7
  • Maximum monthly allotment given is $1,164 for a family size of 8
  • The Maximum monthly allotment given is $1,310 for a family size of 9
  • Maximum monthly allotment given is $1,456 for a family size of 10
  • Maximum monthly allotment given is $1,602 for a family size of 11
  • The Maximum monthly allotment given is $1,748 for a family size of 12
  • Maximum monthly allotment given is $1,894 for a family size of 13
  • Maximum monthly allotment given is $2,040 for a family size of 14
  • The Maximum monthly allotment given is $2,186 for a family size of 15
  • The Maximum monthly allotment given is $2,332 for a family size of 16
  • Maximum monthly allotment given is $2,478 for a family size of 17
  • Maximum monthly allotment given is $2,624 for a family size of 18
  • The Maximum monthly allotment given is $2,770 for a family size of 19
  • Maximum monthly allotment given is $2,916 for a family size of 20

For each additional person, an additional amount of $146 is given to the household.

Applying for SNAP Benefits

Anyone who is an American citizen or foreigner residing in the United States can apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. One has to apply for the program in his or her current state of residence. A person can apply as an individual but in terms of a family or household, only one member of the household should apply on behalf of every other member.

Although on can access the application form on the SANP online portals of the state, some of the states in the U.S. do not allow online application. Search for the SNAP program online and identify with your current state of residence. On the online portals, you would get access to the different locations of the entire local offices in the state. Pick the office nearest to your area of residence.

The application form, correctly filled out and duly signed, could be mailed or faxed to the local office or even summited in person to the office. The form would require you to specify information like;

  • Current state of residence.
  • Specify citizenship (you have to specify if you are a citizen of the country of a foreigner in the country).
  • Number of persons in the household.
  • Number of children in the household.
  • Presence of an elderly person, disabled or mentally challenged person.
  • Employment status.
  • Nature of the job.
  • Assets and resources owned.
  • Amount of income earned. As an individual and as a household combined.

If all the information provided is accurate and meets up with the state’s requirements, then an interview would be conducted. This interview could be in person, online, or via a phone call. Having passed through all this process and deemed eligible by the agency, you could get your benefits within seven days of this approval in an EBT card that would be sent to you.

Now the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is available in all the states in the U.S. and each state has several local agency offices. These offices are created in almost every county of the state in order to ease and simplify the duties of the agency to citizens who need assistance.

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