Learn How to Apply for Food Stamps
If you want to apply for food stamps, you have to follow the rules in your state. Each state has its own rules for getting food stamps from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or “SNAP.” Sometimes, counties inside of states will have their own special rules for applying. The good news is that the form you have to fill out is usually similar. This is because the U.S. Department of Agriculture is in charge of the program requirements across the country.
The time it takes you to finish a food stamp application will depend on some factors. If you want to apply for other government benefit programs at the same time, it may take you longer to finish. Either way, you should apply for benefits as soon as you can so that you do not have to wait extra time to get food stamps.
What do you need to apply for food stamps?
The first thing you should do is get your documents together. You have to give exact numbers for how much you make and for your ID, so you should get your documents ready as soon as you can.
Some of the most important documents you should have ready are:
- Your ID, like a driver’s license, state ID card, green card or passport.
- An age document, like a birth certificate, hospital records or a naturalization certificate.
- A document that proves you live in the state, like a rental agreement.
- A document that shows how much you earn and how much you have in the bank, like bank statements and a paycheck.
- A document that shows your military record.
You will have to give information and proof about what you earned outside of work, too. This can be:
- Child support payments.
- Foster care payments.
- Money in a standard savings account.
- Retirement savings.
- Education grants and loans.
- Veteran benefits.
- Social Security benefits, like Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
You have to give information about all of these types of payments. This is how the government sees if you need benefits. But not all of these payments will be counted in your income. Child support, foster care and retirement savings payments will not be counted.
Next, you will be asked to give information about how much you spend every month. Get together things like your utility bills, medical bills and rental/mortgage bills to prove how much you spend.
To learn more about how to apply for food stamps, download our free guide.
How to Apply for Food Stamps Online
You can apply for food stamps online in most states. The online application is usually the easiest and fastest way to apply. If your state has an application website, you should be able to use it 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Fist, you will have to create an account on your state website. Be ready to give information like your name, age, street address and email address. The next step is to start filling out the application.
You can usually save your work and go back to it if you cannot finish filling out the form in one sitting. But remember that your answers might only be saved for a short time.
The main languages of the online food stamp application are English and Spanish. People who speak different languages can usually download an application in their language and submit it in person.
How to Apply for Food Stamps by Mail
You can apply for SNAP benefits by mail or by fax, too. You might be able to download your application online from the state website and print it out. Some state offices might send you an application by mail if you ask.
Fill out the form when you have it. Then submit it to the fax number or mailing address on the form.
Note: Some state counties do not accept mail-in applications anymore. Double-check with your state before applying by mail.
How to Apply for Food Stamps in Person
To apply for food stamps in person, fill out the application ahead of time. Then bring it to your local food stamp office. States have different names for food stamp offices. For example, New Jersey calls them county welfare agencies, and Arkansas calls them county offices of the Department of Human Services (DHS).
Call the office ahead of time to ask about its open hours. You can check for open hours online, too.
To find out more about food stamp applications, download our guide today.
How to Check on Your SNAP Application Status
Most states will let you check on your SNAP application status online. Log on to your state’s SNAP application site using your username and password.
If you cannot check your application status online, call your food stamp office. If your application is approved or denied, the food stamp office will notify you as fast as they can.
Learn About the Food Stamps Interview
Most states will interview you about the information you gave on the application. The interview usually happens over the phone or in person. If you meet in person, someone from the food stamp office will ask to see documents that back up the information you gave. They will ask any questions they have about your application, too.
If you have any questions about SNAP, this is your chance to ask the food stamp office.
How to Renew Your Food Stamps
If you want to keep getting food stamps, you have to renew your application. This usually happens when your food stamps are about to expire. Your state office will ask you to reapply for benefits.
Like your first time applying, the food stamp office will look at a few factors. They will look at what you earned, what you own and your personal information to make sure that you can still get benefits. You should find out if you can keep getting food stamps in about 30 days.