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A Detailed Guide To SNAP Food Benefits And Eligibility

Updated : August 4th, 2020

Ever since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, the United States has witnessed a surge in unemployment insurance (UI) benefits applicants in addition to SNAP food benefits. The UI benefits provide financial aid to the unemployed, but what are SNAP food benefits? Read through this article to know more about SNAP food benefits and eligibility criteria.

What Are SNAP Food Benefits?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as the food stamp program, provides food assistance to families with low to no income in the United States. The primary purpose of this program is to raise the nutritional level of such people. The food stamp program allows eligible families to buy nutritious food using Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards.

SNAP food benefits is a federal government aided program administered by the Food and Nutrition Service of (FNS) the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But the benefits are distributed by the states.

Who Is Eligible For SNAP Food Benefits?

To qualify for the SNAP food benefits, you must meet certain financial and non- financial requirements. Non-financial requirements include work registration, citizenship/alien status, state residency, and cooperation with the IMPACT program. Financial requirements include:

  • You can have assets worth up to $5,000. Assets include cash, vehicles, bank accounts, personal property, real estate, etc. 
  • You must clear a gross income test (130% of poverty). The gross income is based on your household size and gross monthly income received by all family members

The elderly and disabled also qualify for the SNAP benefits even if they receive meals at their facility. The eligibility criteria for the elderly and disabled are as follows.

  • The elderly must be the residents of federally subsidized housing 
  • Disabled persons living in nonprofit group living arrangements 

SNAP Work Requirements 

In addition to financial and non-financial criteria, you must also meet specific work requirements to qualify for food stamp benefits. The SNAP has two sets of work requirements. 

(1) If you are age 16-59 and can work, you need to meet the general work requirements such as registering for work, taking a suitable job if offered, and participating in SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) or workfare program. Also, you shouldn’t quit your job voluntarily or reduce your work hours below 30 a week without any valid reason. 

However, you can be excused from the general work requirements, provided

  • You are working at least 30 hours a week or earning wages equal to the Federal minimum wage multiplied by 30 work hours
  • You meet work requirements for TANF or unemployment compensation
  • You are unable to work due to mental or physical limitations
  • You are an incapacitated person or are taking care of a child under the age of 6 

If you are required to meet the general work requirements, but you don’t, then you are not eligible for receiving the SNAP food benefits for at least a month. However, if you start meeting the requirements, you can qualify for the SNAP benefits. But if you don’t meet the criteria after qualifying for SNAP, then you will be disqualified for a longer duration. 

(2) If you are age 18-49, do not have any dependents, and can work, you have to meet the general work requirements as well as an additional work requirement for ABAWDs. You can meet the ABAWD work requirements by:

  • Working at least 80 hours a month
  • Taking part in work programs such as SNAP Employment and Training or other local, state programs for a minimum of 80 hours a month
  • Participating in a combination of work program and work for a minimum of 80 hours a month

However, you can be excused from the ABAWD work requirement if:

  • You are unable to work due to a mental or physical limitation
  • You are pregnant

How Are SNAP Benefits Calculated?

The SNAP or food stamp benefits are calculated based on factors such as your household’s maximum gross income and size of your family.

How To Apply For SNAP Food Benefits?

Anyone who meets the eligibility criteria can apply for food stamp benefits. To apply for the benefits, visit your state’s webpage, and fill the form. If it does not have a form on the website, contact your local SNAP office. 

When you apply for the benefits, the Family Support Division (FSD) will verify the information provided and then process the applications. If you provide the required information while applying for the benefits, FSD will process your benefit quickly. 

How To Use SNAP Benefits?

When you qualify for SNAP benefits, you will get an Electronic Benefits Transfer card. Using this card, you can buy items such as:  

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Dairy products
  • Bread and cereals
  • Fish, meat, and poultry
  • Snack and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Plants and seeds which produce food for the household 

You cannot buy items like:

  • Vitamins, medicines, and supplements
  • Beer, liquor, tobacco, or cigarettes
  • Live animals 
  • Meals fit for immediate consumption
  • Pet foods
  • Cosmetics and hygiene products

Final Words

If you qualify but haven’t applied for food stamp benefits, do it now! If you are already receiving the SNAP, then you get extra on your EBT card during the current Coronavirus crisis. 

 

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  1. AUGUST 11, 2020

    The Virginia Employment Commission has proven to be extremely unresponsiveness. I applied for unemployment benefits on June 1, 2020 and was surprisingly advised that my claim was denied because there was no record of my employment during the base year of January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019. However, not only was I employed through the year of 2019, I also filed my state taxes for 2019 in spring of this year and received a refund from the state. Therefore, it is bizarre that the Virginia Employment Commission/Commonwealth of Virginia would have no record of my employment for 2019.

    I appealed this decision on June 17, 2020 via VEC’s web site, via fax, and via mail (USPS) and, almost two months later, I have yet to hear from anyone at VEC with regard to the status of my appeal. I have also not been able to connect with anyone by phone or via chat on VEC’s web site. On July 28, 2020, I applied for Virginia’s Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and have yet to receive a response concerning my application.

    VEC has demonstrated VERY POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE and it is my hope that someone will finally follow-up with me.

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