To find out all about Coronavirus-related unemployment benefits     

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. So I have been getting ue for 6 months and on Oct 21 I had a fact finding issue found and cleared after taking a month, I got put on hold I got nothing no benefits nothing because I am on hold until cleared up and it was another month later in my favor, I’ve been without payment since Oct 21 since then I have been on HOLD, I am beyond pissed, I call every Fri I see the letter I received saying its in my favor that says I am Monetary Eligible-yet I still have 6 payments on hold. I call DEO and I talk, I beg and I get told “we are working on it”, the letter is in my favor I am poor not rich I am poor Why how do you people get away with this

  2. Hello

    I’m 59 years old and was laid off in March 2020 due to Covid.
    In June 2020 I was advised my job was eliminated and there is no chance of me
    Being brought back. I’m collecting UI since March.

    Pondering the thought of taking my early retirement pension as I can’t survive on
    UI any longer. My pension is of course reduced due to my age. Full pension is age 62.

    If I apply for early reduced pension in this situation, does my UI benefit get decreased? I’m in New York.
    I’m still looking for full time work. No luck.

    Thank you so much

  3. i was just layed off from my job, i did collect benefits in pa. my job is seasonal igot unemployment payments in jan. to april i had 26 weeks of unemployment , but only used about 13 weeks, and was called back to work. i received 2 weeks of 600 dollars of stimlus money. my question is now that i reopened my 2020 claim . i,m i still elegibe for any more stimlus payments along with my regular unemployment payments.

  4. I am 65 yrs old in California and being layed off in Dec 2020. If I apply for unemployment benefits and collect a company pension, will the pension reduce the unemployment benefits ? If you answer call unemployment what is the department or do you have a phone number for a help line. I have called and get automated questions that do not apply to my situation.
    Cannot get to a live person.

  5. Several years ago I was part of a reduction in force and was early-retired for pension purposes. I count on this small pension ($2K/mo) to supplement my employment which has been inconsistent this past two years. I am filing for UI in IL and I qualify for it, but they are saying my pension reduces my UI benefit to zero. Is that right?

    1. Mike,

      That is partially right. The pension will have an impact on UI benefits. Please check for relevant info on the Unemployment Office’s website.

  6. I have $219.00 left on my UE and still no work due to covid-19 will i be able to get a extension on my UE and will it cover the last two weeks. I request payment tomorrow.

      1. My benefits have expired, still.unemployed due to over 65, wdiebrtes, high blood pressure and have one kidney, Can I get PUA , Cares Act for any assistance

  7. im working at a place i have been layed off from a lot in my career.i got 30 yrs in there so i can retire now but need another job to make it hoping to stay working and get more hours.If i take a new job and get layed off there I will BE DRAWING 1400 A MONTH FROM THE JOB I WORKED 30 YRS would i be able to draw unemployment if the new job lays me off and would it be reduced because of my retirement money of 1400 month.

  8. My bf was laid off in April he got the the 600 to start with now he is only getting the unemployment and no extra when we hear ppl getting 3 checks totaling 40k that might be lies but still that is bullshit.

  9. I Sharon Bland or Sharon Scott or Sharon Ann Mccraw
    Use my phone to claim two of my boyfriends and my own benefits. Is that ok ?

  10. I’m getting pua on employment and it was supposed to be backdated to May 27th when I wasn’t ableable to start my new job and somehow it’s August 24th they said it would be backdated been sending messages and pua people keep saying they have emailed you guys too but nobody gets back to me who do I need to contact about this thank you

  11. I check my checking account balance every week but I cannot tell if I am getting my 300.00 extra unemployment. Also. How can I tell if I got my back time unemployment .

    1. Thelma,

      I did not understand what you meant. Please reach out to the Unemployment Office for precise answers to all your questions.

  12. I have exhausted my UI and all extensions. Not eligible for Fed Ed. Does EDD open a PUA claim for me. Or do I have to aoole for it. Its been past 30 days since receiving my Fed Ed denial letter.

  13. i have been unemployed for the whole year almost and since i have been trying to distance myself to better my all around health, it took me this long to file for benefits, i was hoping to get back pay all the way to the beginning.

    1. Zach,

      To qualify, the claimant is required to have sufficient earnings/employment during the “Base Period”. Please use the “Benefits Calculator” available on this website for more.

  14. Thank you o much for investigating this. When I received an overpayment statement and my benefits where stopped I felt my heart drop to my stomach. Already being evicted by a slumlord and now no income, i had to start working when i feel very at risk for getting the virus because of pre-existing conditions and the reason for filing in the first place. i am a cosmetologist and considered non-essential. I feel utterley hopeless and helpless in this situation.

  15. I cannot contact anyone in the unemployment offices because the phone hangs up on me in all cases after listening over and over the recorded message. I have called three numbers .

    I have received pandemic unemployment since March 31st. There was a pending adjudication but I never received any questions, letters nor emails about it and I was approved and paid. Now…this is what the website says:
    7 of 7 entries
    Issue Identification Number Employer Name Issue Type Status Date Mailed Level
    0002 7693 59-01
    PUA Pending 11/16/2020 Adjudication
    0002 4773 71-01
    Program Integrity Mailed 11/6/2020 Adjudicati
    Claimant Inbox
    Select the Search button to display your action items. To narrow your search, input issue date range below and select the Search button.
    Issue Date: From: To: 11/6/2020 to 11/16/2020
    • Below are the items that require your attention and that you need to take action on for your claim.
    • Select the Document ID
    I need this money to survive as others do while I am trying to re-establish any contract freelance work I am capable of doing….I report my small jobs as I get them but they do not come close to equaling my unemployment as of yet. Please tell me where I can go to find out what is needed here.

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