Low-income residents may be eligible for food stamps in Montana through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The SNAP program provides low-income households with funds to purchase healthy, fresh groceries. It is funded through the federal government and managed at the state level. In Montana, the program is part of the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).
SNAP food stamps are not intended to completely fulfill a family’s grocery needs. Instead, the program is meant to help supplement a household’s groceries. Maximum benefits are set at the federal level. However, it is up to states to decide how much to issue to applicants.
Only individuals who meet the eligibility qualifications can receive SNAP assistance. In some cases, some members of a household may be eligible for benefits while others are not. To learn more about the food stamps program in Montana, download our free guide.
Learn About Montana Food Stamps Requirements
You must meet a few Montana food stamps eligibility requirements before you can start receiving SNAP benefits. This includes meeting the SNAP income guidelines, household composition requirements and more.
In general, your household gross and net monthly income should be no more than the limit for your household size. Gross income is your total earnings, and net income is the remaining amount after taxes and other deductions are taken out. Households with more people can earn more than households with fewer members and still qualify.
For example, a single-person household could qualify with a gross monthly income of up to $1,396 and a net monthly income of $1,074. A three-person household could qualify with a gross monthly income of up to $2,379 and a net monthly income of $1,830.
However, some households with senior or disabled members fall under the expanded categorical eligibility criteria and can have a higher gross income than other households and still qualify. For instance, a single disabled person could qualify with a gross monthly income of up to $2,148. A three-person household that meets the expanded categorical eligibility criteria could qualify with a gross monthly income of up to $3,360.
Along with SNAP income guidelines, eligibility also depends on how many assets and savings a family has. Although the first car and property are not included in an applicant’s assets, additional cars and properties are.
In general, a household should not have more than $2,500 in assets, which includes all checking and savings account. Households with a disabled member or elderly member can have up to $3,750 in resources and still qualify.
Households in which all members receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) automatically qualify for SNAP regardless of resource limits.
To meet SNAP eligibility requirements, applicants must have a Social Security number (SSN). Additionally, able-bodied individuals between 16 and 59 years of age must register for work and participate in a training or employment program to receive benefits. There may be some exceptions available for individuals with mental disabilities or those who are enrolled in school.
How to Apply for Food Stamps in Montana
Montana residents can apply for food stamps by phone, in person, by mail, by email and online depending on their preference. The quickest way, however, is to apply for food stamps online.
Regardless of how an individual applies, he or she should expect to provide information about finances SSN for all members of the household.
By definition, a household includes everyone who lives together and prepares food together. If someone has a roommate and does not share the cost of groceries or meals with that roommate, the roommate is not considered part of the SNAP household. However, roommates who do share the cost of groceries and meals should be included in an application, even if the roommate is not a family member.
Note: Get instructions on how to apply for food stamps and more by downloading our free guide.
The Montana food stamp application asks applicants to provide a detailed summary of all income sources, including both earned and unearned income. This means along with W-2 income or self-employment income, individuals must disclose child support, TANF, SSI and more. Additionally, applicants must list all assets in the household.
When residents apply for SNAP, the state may contact previous employers and landlords listed on an application to confirm that the information is accurate. It is important to fill out the form accurately, as mistakes on an application could result in an automatic denial.
Learn About SNAP Benefits in Montana
If you are approved for SNAP benefits in Montana, you will receive a monthly payout on an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card. The amount you get on your EBT card each month depends on your financial situation and household makeup.
In general, you can estimate how much you may earn in monthly food stamp benefits by determining what 30 percent of your net monthly income is after all allowable deductions. After calculating 30 percent of your income, you should subtract the number from the federal maximum allowable benefits for a household of your size. Acceptable deductions include:
- 20 percent of the total gross income.
- A state-standard deduction based on household size.
- Dependent care costs.
- Child support payments.
- Excess shelter costs.
- Certain medical expense deductions.
However, although you can estimate the deductions to your income, the Montana DPHHS determines the final calculation and how much you will receive in SNAP food benefits.
SNAP benefits in Montana also include programs designed to help you make healthy nutritious choices and improve your financial situation. These programs are:
- SNAP Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Program (SNAP Ed) – The SNAP Ed program is designed to teach SNAP beneficiaries about healthy food choices and the importance of exercise. Children receive classes in elementary school, while adults receive an eight-class course. The course goes over ways to stretch SNAP benefits while making healthy choices, important tips for staying healthy and incorporating physical activity into a weekly schedule.
- SNAP Employment and Training Program (SNAP E&T) – The SNAP E&T program focuses on able-bodied adults with no dependents, although other SNAP beneficiaries may be able to enter depending on demand. The program helps participants learn how to reach their employment foals with training, education and support services.
Once you have your EBT card, you can use it at participating grocery and retail stores, as well as participating farmers’ markets. You also gain access to a Montana EBT help desk hotline that can help you sort out problems with your funding and your card if needed.
Name: Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
Phone Number: (406) 444-5622
Address: 111 North Sanders, Room 301, Helena, MT 59620
Secretary: Xavier Becerra
Last Updated: September 29, 2022