When talking about beneficial programs in the United States, the WIC program cannot be exempted. For a person to be able to receive benefits from the program, that person must first have WIC Eligibility. For you to be eligible, you must have applied to the WIC program and have met up with the eligibility requirements of the program. An applicant to the WIC can also gain automatic eligibility from the program if the applicant participates in certain other benefits programs in the like of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) and some other benefit program.
WIC is a Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children residing in the United States of America only. This program is a federal assistance program that is administered by the Food and Nutrition Service under the United States Department of Agriculture.
This program focuses mainly on Women, Infants, and Children giving federal grants to states in order to help support to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five with supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education. These sets of persons being supported must be found to be at nutritional risk.
The WIC program provides this assistance to children up until they are five years of age before the benefits stop.
WIC Eligibility Requirements
As earlier mentioned, to get eligibility to receive benefits from the program, one has to first apply to the program. The eligibility requirements for WIC are grouped into four different areas. These areas are listed out below.
- Residential: the applicant must be a resident of the state he or she is applying to.
- Nutritional risk: a nutritional assessment must be done to show that the applicant is at nutritional risk. This assessment could be carried out by a health professional such as a physician, nurse, or nutritionist and should contain blood levels, dietary and medical conditions.
- Categorical: the applicant must either be an infant, a child under five years of age or a woman (who is pregnant, breastfeeding or up to six months of postpartum)
- Income: the income level of the household of an applicant must not be above 185% federal poverty line in the U.S. the income level being used is the annual/ monthly/ weekly gross income before taxes are deducted.
If all these requirements are met, the applicant is sure to be eligible to receive the benefits of the WIC program.
WIC Income Eligibility Guidelines
The income eligibility guidelines to follow when applying for benefits from WIC are stated per family size. The income level of an applicant’s family size must not exceed the stipulated amount by the program. Below is the WIC given income level per family size.
For a family of 1
For a family of 2
For a family of 3
For a family of 4
For a family of 5
For a family of 6
For a family of 7
For a family of 8
For each additional family member, add an annual of $8,177, a monthly of 682 or a weekly of 158.
WIC Waiting List
Gaining eligibility does not mean an applicant immediately receives benefits from the program. After getting eligibility, it might still take an applicant a number of weeks before he or she can start receiving benefits from the program especially if their need for assistance is not so pressing compared to other applicants on the ground.
That eligible applicant would be placed on the waiting list of WIC. This waiting list contains all the applicants that have applied to the program and have met the eligibility requirement of it but are yet to receive benefits from the program.
This waiting list came about because the agencies sometimes do not have enough money to serve everyone who is in need of the benefits or calls to apply. The WIC agencies then use a special system called the Priority System to determine who will get the WIC benefits first when more persons can be served.
Those who get served first (are placed at the top of the waiting list) are mostly those with most serious health conditions like anemia (low blood levels), underweight, and history of problems during pregnancy. Another set of people who get placed at the top of the waiting list are WIC participants who move from one place, area, or state to another. They are often placed at the top of the WIC waiting list of the new area and are first served when the program can serve more persons.
How To Apply For WIC
To apply for the benefits of WIC, you have to find a local agency nearest to you in your state or call any of their contact numbers to book an appointment. Details of the appointment like date, place, and what to bring along with you, would be related to you by any of the WIC agents.
Some of the items you may be asked to come along with to the appointment are;
- A WIC appointment letter would be sent to you and you must bring that along with you to the meeting.
- You may also be asked to bring immunization records for children.
- Any WIC medical forms given to you by your health care provider such as WIC Medical Referral form and a Medical Documentation form (for WIC formula and approved WIC foods).
During the appointment, the agent would listen to your concerns and needs, provide help from experienced staff and peer counselors, assist you in making the best decisions for you and your family, and more.
A direct online application is not yet available from the program. All applications must pass through the agency either in person or via a call to book the appointments.
Some of the benefits of the Women, Infants and Children program to be gained by eligible applicants are;
- Food packages come in the form of a WIC card that can be used to buy approved food items only from approved stores.
- Breastfeeding Promotion and Support.
- Revitalizing Quality Nutrition Services (RQNS) in the WIC Program.
- WIC Works Resource System.
- Nutrition Services Standards.
- VENA (Value Enhances Nutrition Assessment).
- Immunization screening and Referral to health care and social services.
The program is not limited to just women, fathers and grandfathers can also bring in their children who are in need of the supports the program can give.