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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. I had trouble getting my proof of self-employment to upload in secure file exchange and finally got it submitted by 12:06 am , 6 minutes late. What are the possibilities that they will deny it? I have received unemployment from March 2020 to some of Jan and some in Feb 2021. Most of Dec, Jan, Feb, March, & april were stopped for this proof of employment.
    Also, I see proof of Income as a 2nd issue but it is always on there. That was not on my TO DO list.
    I feel for u all on ID.ME…

    Anyone trying to reach UI, call their number, press 2 or 3 (questions abt filing a claim?) and then wait thru the message. At the end of it, u will be connected to a live person! I promise.. don’t push another button.. I’ve done it 4 times and it never failed.

    We lost our home, my ex took my child…. (kept her after a visit and called cps facilitating drama while the cops wouldn’t give her back without paperwork locked up in the court house..shut down for covid) I raised her by myself for 12 years & now she is with a violent alcoholic and parental alienating parent .. ….my dog, my 9-year sweet little best friend, was attacked, passing away 3 days later.. all in this time frame.
    But! It will all be ok. I have faith.

    Be grateful for your life and all that is in it today. What u dwell on daily will be your strength or weakness.
    Good luck to all of u.
    And thank you, Jeff, for responding out here. It is appreciated!
    Davulia S.

  2. I filed over two months ago. I have not received any information. My status says “pending resolution”. I have no way of contacting anyone. My position was eliminated at my job and I submitted the documentations online. I dont know what else I can do.

  3. I have been apply Ohio Pua unemployment since July 5th still pending issues. Upload what they ask for when ever I call says your case is in Adjudication. Very very frustrated, financially I am broke. Health issues. Waiting a long period.Don’t know what I will do ?

    1. Nafisa,

      I can understand your situation. There will be a delay considering the number of applications that are being processed. Please continue chasing the office/check your status online at regular intervals until payments normalize.

    2. Same here since Feb 2021 turned in all the documents still pending issues 3 months now. When you call they tell you to be patient. Pulling my hair out it’s so frustrating.

  4. I was receiving PUA unemployment. they made me file for a new claim in February. Now I am in adjudication even though I gave all the same information from my previous claim. Have been adjudication since February and I call and they say they will put in a ticket to have an Adjudicator call me. Nothing. I am wondering If I can go down to to Maryland Unemployment Office and demand that someone talk with me to release my claim for payment. It’s been 56 days. I read that they have a maximum of 45 days.

    1. Luis,

      Your adjudicator may be inundated with pending cases. Please continue to follow up (if you have the contact details) or consider the option of visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible.

    2. t sounds just like mine only im disqualified yet actie every till sept 4th . they haven’t asked me for anything! i file then its disqualified yet im told im ok and have nothing to do bit wait for an answer? answer to what? they switched my program and all and asked me to provide proof for a claim that wa denied al eady back in 2018! deny me once and then again perhaps? lol idk

  5. My mom had unemployment in Florida. She just recently moved temporally to California with a sister since she needs assistance, and now the website is telling her she cannot do anything because she is register in another state. Can she keep filing unemployment in Florida, even if she is living and register now in another state? how is the process to change the unemployment? I tried calling and there is no answer. Thank you!

    1. Stephanie,

      Please ask your mother to consider transferring the UI benefits from FL to CA (details will be available on either of the websites). If there are benefits weeks left in the account, she will be able to claim them.

    1. Leatha,

      UI benefits are offered to claimants who lose employment involuntarily and be able to and available for work.

  6. I lived in ga in 2019 and move to florida in 2020 and work for the xmas months in nov-dec. I was told to do a combine wage claim. my question is which state do i file the claim in?

  7. I filed for pua in Ohio back in October 2020.My claim has been in ajudacatuon since 11/1/20.So 2 to 6 weeks is a total understatement! When I call.i am told to basically hurry up and wait some more.I have recently been redetermined and my claim is allowed.but I have one pending issue.How long is too long?

    1. Nicole,

      Unfortunately, nobody has an answer. There are perhaps thousands of pending applications. Please consider the option of visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible.

  8. If you claim your weeks for unemployment and for the next 2 months you still have not received your money. Where can you go in volusia county to talk with a live person

      1. HI Jeff,
        I applied back in Dec 5th, 2020 and I haven’t received any correspondence, is there a local office that I can make an appt to make certain my claim is right.

        1. Adam,

          You can consider visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible (details will be available on the Unemployment Office’s website).

  9. On NYS DOL website, my claim is saying current yet the information is for my old claim with 0 days remaining despite receiving 2 weeks of payments on the new claim and I was able to certify last night. I haven’t received anything; no letters or emails.

  10. I was disqualified for UI benefits for not providing an ID and other forms of identification. How do I fix this?

        1. Gary,

          You may not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

    1. Hi Mike, I’m in NYS and was at the end of my BYE on 3/14, I was still certifying but wasn’t getting paid. I found out I had to file a new claim because my other was exhausted. I’m still waiting on approval. Maybe you have to file a new claim. I hope this helps.

  11. They say 2-6 weeks it’s more accurate to say 2-6 months; and when you call many of them are rude and unwilling to assist!

  12. someone needs to look into Sharon L. Anton gillette, wyo. or dickinson, nd she is a fraud and has done so many fraudulent things and please look into her

    1. Annette,

      Please report it to the Fraud Division of the Unemployment Office in your state. You can report on the website.

  13. I worked part time for thee years here in florida. I’m currently not working. I’m also retired and collects social security.
    My question is
    Am I qualified to file for unemployment ?

    1. Ruby,

      To be eligible, you’re required to have sufficient hours and earnings. Please use the “Benefits Calculator” available on this website.

  14. So adjudication takes 8 to 12 weeks. Oh okay, that explains why I havent received payment since July. That surely helps just like the rest of the information that you give. And by the way. What’s the NEW reason you can’t get through to the Call Center.

    1. Maria,
      I have gotten through to the call center (live agent) every time i’ve tried calling within the last 2 weeks. The number to a live agent (follow the prompts carefully) is (667)-207-6520. i have gotten through within 10 to 15 mins with each call i had made!

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