The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps in Washington or the Basic Food program, is a joint federal and state program that provides financial assistance to low-income families. Its goal is to help families meet their basic food needs and have access to healthy food. To be eligible for the SNAP program, there are eligibility requirements that applicants must meet regarding income, legal and residency status and/or disability.
There are several ways to apply for the SNAP food stamps program. The most common ways are online and in person. Petitioners must fill out an application and input information about themselves and household members. Program caseworkers will use this information to determine if applicants meet the eligibility requirements.
Once accepted into the program, recipients will use a card to access their benefits and purchase foods at eligible stores. To learn more about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, review the sections below.
Learn About Washington Food Stamps Requirements
Food stamps eligibility in WA will depend on several factors. Firstly, all applicants must be residents of the state. The program requires proof of address to ensure that recipients live in the state. Non-citizens can be eligible for SNAP if they fall within the group of lawful immigrants, such as refugees and lawful permanent residents (LPRs).
One of the most important food stamp qualifications for the program is meeting the monthly income limits. Every year, the program determines the maximum income that applicants can have a month to qualify for food stamps, based on household size. SNAP also has a resource value limit that will affect applicants’ SNAP eligibility. Resources include checking and savings accounts, a 401K, homes and life insurance. Similar to SNAP income guidelines, the cash value of these resources cannot exceed a certain amount to qualify for the program.
To learn more about food stamp requirements in Washington, download our free guide.
Furthermore, there are work requirements for those who receive SNAP benefits. All applicants between 18 and 59 years of age must register for work or look for work while receiving benefits once they are accepted into the program. Some applicants are exempt from this requirement, including those who:
- Are currently receiving unemployment compensation.
- Are caring for dependents who are younger than six years of age or with an incapacity.
- Have been deemed unable to work due to a mental or physical disability.
How to Apply for Food Stamps in Washington
There are three ways to apply for food stamps in Washington: online, in person and by mail/fax. To apply for food stamps online, petitioners must visit the program’s online portal and submit the application there. The process involves inputting personal information, such as:
- Resources and assets.
- Housing and childcare costs.
- Applicable circumstances, such as domestic violence, disabilities and health issues.
You must provide information on yourself and all members of your household. It can take up to an hour to fill out the application, as it requires detailed information. Therefore, it is important to take great care when completing the form. Having incorrect or incomplete information on your food stamp application can delay the process. This applies to all application methods.
After completing a paper application, you can submit it in person at your local Community Services office or mail/fax it to your local Department of Social and Health Services office. It is simply a matter of preference. However, keep in mind that mail-in applications typically take longer to process. As such, it may be best to apply for SNAP in Washington using an alternative method.
Note: If you need benefits urgently, you can receive an answer within seven days if your household meets certain qualifications. This includes having income and resources less than your housing costs, having needy migrants or farm workers in your household and having less than $150 in gross income.
Learn About SNAP Benefits in Washington
After submitting an application, it takes up to 30 days to receive an answer and find out if you will receive SNAP benefits in WA. The DSHS must answer within this time frame to be in compliance with the program’s rules. Typically, applicants know within six to 10 days.
Once an applicant is accepted into the program, he or she will receive an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card. A set amount is deposited on the card every month on the same day between the 1st and 10th.
Recipients can use their food stamps benefits at local grocery stores, discount retailers and convenience stores that accept EBT cards. Because the program promotes healthy eating, there are certain items that beneficiaries cannot buy with their EBT card. This includes the following:
- Hot and prepared foods
- Cigarettes and tobacco
- Live animals
- Non-food items, such as pet food and cleaning supplies
If you do not use all your Washington SNAP food benefits in one month, they will roll over to the next month. However, if you do not access your SNAP benefits for a very long time, the program may withdraw your benefits.
Students in families who receive SNAP food benefits can automatically be enrolled in school programs that offer free meals. The beneficiaries do not have to fill out any additional applicants to receive this benefit.
There are also rules that EBT cardholders must follow to continue receiving benefits. For instance, it is against program rules to give an EBT card to a non-recipient. Exchanging the card for cash to buy non-approved food items can also have a beneficiary removed from the program.
Note: If you have a change in income while receiving SNAP benefits, you must report it to a program caseworker as this may affect your eligibility. It can also affect how much money you receive. If your income decrease, you may be eligible for more benefits. Conversely, a higher income can mean lower benefits.
Download our free guide to learn more about the benefits you can receive through the program.
Name: DSHS Community Services Customer Service Contact Center
Phone Number: (877) 501-2233
Address: 2106 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98121
Secretary: Jilma Meneses
Last Updated: February 27, 2023