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SNAP/Food Stamps – How to Apply for the SNAP Food Stamp Program

The food stamp program has changed; here's what you need to know about SNAP


Cheerful senior couple check their shopping list in supermarket
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On October 1, 2008, the federal food stamp program was replaced by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Many people know about the federal food stamp program (since it's been around for 40+ years) and SNAP is fairly new, so I'll refer to both in this article.

Do You Qualify for Snap Food Stamps?
The SNAP food stamp program makes it easy to find out if you qualify for food stamps. All you need to do is go online to the foodstamp site and answer questions about where you live, who you live with, your income and your assets (money in savings or checking accounts, retirement plans, and other assets.

If You Qualify for SNAP Food Stamps, What's Next?
If, after completing the SNAP food stamp eligibility questions, you think you qualify for food stamps, the next step is completing the SNAP food stamp application.

You can pick up a SNAP food stamp application at your local state SNAP office, or they can mail one to you. Some states allow SNAP food stamp applicants to apply for food stamps online. To find the closest SNAP food stamp office in your state, call the toll-free SNAP information line at 1-800-221-5689.

If you qualify to receive SNAP food stamp benefits, you'll probably want to get the application process going as soon as possible. While you're at the SNAP office, complete the first part of the application (your name, address, and signature) and leave it with a SNAP worker. This will get your application process going while you complete the rest of the application.

What If Your SNAP Food Stamp Benefit is Denied?

Your SNAP Interview
After completing the application for food stamp benefits, you'll have an interview with a SNAP worker. This must be scheduled in advance. When you arrive for the SNAP interview, bring your complete application and the documents or papers you need to have. Ask your SNAP worker which documents you will need to bring. The documents you will need to bring depend on your individual circumstances and may be different for each person, but these documents are often required when applying for food stamps: drivers license or state ID card, birth certificate, pay stubs, eligibility letters for SSI, VA or other assistance you receive, a copy or your apartment lease or mortgage statement, utility bills, proof of daycare or child support payments, and medical bills that you pay if you have a disability or are age 60 and older

How the SNAP Food Stamp Benefits Work
Unlike the old Federal Food Stamp program, SNAP uses EBT cards (similar to ATM cards) instead of coupon books. When you go grocery shopping with your SNAP card, simply hand the card to the cashier and he or she will deduct your food purchases from your monthly total.

Many of the same food stamp rules apply to SNAP: Only food purchases (no pet food), no cigarettes or alcohol, and no household products, medicine, or vitamins.

Want more details about SNAP? For more details about the SNAP food stamp program, including how to use the SNAP EBT card, what to do if you lose your card, and answers to frequently-asked questions, see the SNAP Website.

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