The Virginia Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is administered by the state Department of Social Services (DSS). This program, which is also known as food stamps, provides assistance to low-income families that need help affording groceries. In order to participate in the SNAP program, applicants must meet a variety of eligibility requirements and submit the proper form to the DSS. If approved, benefits will be provided on an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card.
Once you start receiving SNAP assistance in Virginia, you will need to keep your information up to date and report any changes that may affect your eligibility. Moreover, keep in mind that your total benefit amount may go up or down over time if your circumstances change. Read below to learn everything you need to know about getting SNAP food stamps and find out how to use your benefits.
Learn About Virginia Food Stamps Requirements
The main food stamp qualifications relate to your citizenship, income level and household size/composition. Depending on your situation, your eligibility may also be based on your:
- Disability status
- Employment status
The food stamps program in Virginia is generally available to low-income households that have limited resources. Income includes anything that a family member earns from employment or informal work. A resource, on the other hand, includes cash, bank account balances, bonds, stocks and other similar assets. In most cases, a family’s home, car and personal belongings are not defined as resources.
When it comes to the SNAP income guidelines, it is important to understand how your household size and composition affect your eligibility. Overall, the food stamp income guidelines are based on how large your household is. Consequently, the larger your family is, the more income you can have and still qualify for assistance.
In the event that you reside in a household that includes a senior or person with disabilities, you may meet the food stamps eligibility requirements while having a higher income. Moreover, these households are generally allowed to have more financial resources and/or assets than the average SNAP applicant.
If you meet the Virginia food stamp qualifications based on your income, you still need to meet citizenship, residency and Social Security number (SSN) criteria. The food stamps program is only open to U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens. Furthermore, all applicants must provide an SSN in order to receive benefits.
In any case, you must be a resident of Virginia in order to get benefits from the state DSS. If you meet food stamps eligibility based on your income but are not a resident, you might qualify for benefits in your home state.
There are additional requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents. These applicants may need to register for work before they are eligible to receive assistance. Registering for work can include taking job offers, undergoing training or working a minimum number of hours per week.
How to Apply for Food Stamps in Virginia
It is recommended that you apply for food stamps as soon as you meet the proper eligibility requirements. This is because, if approved, your benefits will start on the date when you submitted your application. A food stamp application can be completed online, in person or through the mail.
If you wish to apply for food stamps online, you will need to create an account with the state DSS. Once you are logged into your account, simply select the application you want to complete and fill out all the necessary fields.
You may use a paper application if you want to apply through the mail or in person. Generally, a paper form can be downloaded and printed from the official DSS portal. Alternatively, you may contact a DSS office to receive a copy.
Once you have the appropriate application form, fill in all of the required fields, sign the form and return it to your local DSS office by mail or in person. If you do not have all of your information on hand, you may still apply, as long as your form includes your name, address and signature.
Note: If you already receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you may be eligible to apply for SNAP at a Social Security office, if you wish to do so.
To complete the food stamp application process, you will need to undergo an interview. This interview is used to verify your information and obtain any missing details. Interviews may be held in person or, in some cases, over the phone.
After you apply for food stamps in Virginia, it may take up to 30 days to start receiving benefits. However, your application will be processed more quickly if the DSS determines that you are experiencing a food emergency. In such cases, you can receive benefits within a week. Download our free guide to learn more about the interview and application process.
Learn About SNAP Benefits in Virginia
Food stamp benefits are loaded onto an EBT card every month. Generally, you will receive this card as soon as you are approved for benefits. EBT cards work just like debit cards, except that they can only be used to purchase eligible food items. Examples of food that you are allowed to buy with VA SNAP benefits include:
- Meat, fish and eggs.
- Dairy and non-dairy alternatives.
- Bread, cereal and grain.
- Fruits and vegetables.
- Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.
You cannot use SNAP food benefits to buy alcohol, tobacco or non-food items. Examples of non-food items include pet food, paper products and cookware. Moreover, SNAP benefits cannot be used to take cash out at an ATM or receive cash back with a purchase at the grocery store. Furthermore, you are not allowed to use your EBT card in casinos, on cruise ships or in most restaurants.
Only certain places are approved to take benefits. This includes many grocery stores and supermarkets as well as some farmers’ markets. Keep in mind that even if you shop at an approved location, you cannot use benefits on just any food product. Certain types of food are prohibited, such as hot or ready-to-eat items. For instance, you cannot order a meal from the deli and pay with your SNAP benefits. Download our free guide to learn everything else you need to know about using these benefits.
Name: Virginia Department of Social Service (DSS)
Phone Number: 800-552-3431
Address: 801 E Main Street, Richmond, VA 23219
Deputy Commissioner: Kristin Zagar
Last Updated: September 30, 2022