Learn About Pennsylvania Food Stamps

Updated on 09/30/2022

Pennsylvania food stamps are provided by the Department of Human Services (DHS) for low-income households that need help buying nutritious foods. This program, which is officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), helps children, people with disabilities, families, senior citizens and working adults without dependents. However, the amount of SNAP assistance a household receives depends mostly on its size and income.

In order to participate in the SNAP program in Pennsylvania, you must meet the eligibility criteria and submit an application. Once approved, you will receive SNAP food stamps for a set amount of time. Then, in order to maintain your benefits once your enrollment period ends, you will be required to recertify your eligibility. Read below to learn more about the food stamps program and discover what you need to know about applying for and using your benefits.

Learn About Pennsylvania Food Stamps Requirements

Meeting the Pennsylvania food stamps qualifications is the first step toward receiving these benefits. Generally, your food stamps eligibility is based on a number of factors, which may include your:

  • Age
  • Disability status
  • Citizenship
  • Employment status
  • Income
  • Household size

SNAP eligibility is not limited to seniors, children or people with disabilities. Overall, any family or individual that meets the basic program requirements can apply for benefits. However, there are different rules for households that include seniors and/or people with disabilities, as these groups can typically qualify for the program despite having a slightly higher income level.

The SNAP income guidelines in PA require households to have a low income and a limited amount of financial resources. Generally, a household’s income must be at or below 200 percent of the poverty level. By definition, income includes anything that a household member earns as payment for work or other services. In some cases, a beneficiary can deduct certain expenses from his or her income. For example, excess medical expenses for seniors or people with disabilities may be deductible.

Under the food stamp income guidelines, families and individuals must have access to limited financial resources as well. A resource can include things such as bank accounts, cash or savings bonds. The family’s home or vehicle is usually not counted as a resource. Learn more about the income and resource requirements for this program by reading our free guide.

In addition to meeting the income and resource requirements, you also need to be a U.S. citizen or be legally present in the U.S. in order to receive benefits. Be mindful that food stamps may be given to the legally-present members of your household in the event that your family includes a mix of legal and non-legal residents.

If you are an able-bodied adult who is between 18 and 59 years of age, your food stamps eligibility in Pennsylvania may also be affected by your employment status and/or willingness to work. In most cases, you will need to work a certain number of hours per week in order to receive benefits. If you are unemployed, it may be necessary to register for work with the SNAP program and meet various employment goals through this program.

How to Apply for Food Stamps in Pennsylvania

You may apply for food stamps as soon as you properly assess that you meet the eligibility criteria. Otherwise, you can still submit a food stamp application if you are unsure of your qualifications, as all of your information will be verified by the state agency.

It is possible to apply for food stamps online, by mail or in person. If you wish to apply online, you may use the official Pennsylvania online portal for these types of benefits. To do so, simply create an account and follow the on-screen prompts, which will ask you to provide certain details regarding you and your household.

If you wish to apply for SNAP using a physical form instead, you may print the PDF form from the official state website and fill it out at your convenience. Alternatively, paper forms can be obtained from various county offices. On the paper application, select the service(s) that you want to apply for and enter all of the required information. This includes:

  • The name, date of birth and Social Security Number (SSN) of each household member.
  • A list of your income and financial resources.
  • Details on household expenses, such as rent or utilities.
  • Work or school information on each applicant, if relevant.
  • The disability status of each household member.

When you apply for food stamps in PA, you need to provide paperwork that verifies your information. For example, you may need to include pay stubs, bank statements or benefit award letters to confirm your income and financial resources.

Another part of the food stamp application process is to undergo an interview. An interview is used to verify your information and obtain any additional details that the DHS needs to process your application. Download our free guide to learn more about the interview and application process.

Learn About SNAP Benefits in Pennsylvania

If you are approved, you will begin receiving SNAP benefits within 30 days. In the event that you have extremely limited income or resources, you may qualify for emergency assistance. In such cases, food stamp benefits may start in as little as one week.

The total amount of food stamp benefits you receive varies based on your household size and income. Your benefit amount may also go up or down over time if your circumstances change. For example, earning more income may reduce your benefit amount. In any case, your funds will be loaded onto an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card that works much like a debit card.

Pennsylvania SNAP benefits can help you buy a variety of food items. As an example, you are allowed to purchase any of the following:

  • Meat, fish, eggs and poultry
  • Dairy and dairy alternatives
  • Fruits and veggies
  • Bread, cereal and other grains
  • Snacks and beverages
  • Seeds and plants that can grow fruits or veggies at home

Under this program, you cannot buy hot or ready-to-eat food items. Food stamp benefits also cannot be used to purchase any non-food item, such as cookware, paper products or cleaning supplies. Furthermore, you cannot spend your benefits on items such as alcohol or tobacco.

Contact Information

Name: Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Help Line

Phone Number: (800) 692-7462

Address: 625 Forster St. Harrisburg, PA 17120

Secretary: Meg Snead

Last Updated: February 27, 2023