The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), often referred to as food stamps, is designed to help low-income individuals and families afford groceries each month. Although the program is overseen on a federal level by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), SNAP assistance is administered locally through regional offices of the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS).
Eligibility for the Connecticut SNAP program is based primarily on a household’s size and income level. Applicants will be asked to provide detailed information about their household demographics, all sources of income and any assets they may possess. They may submit their applications to a regional office of the DSS. Read on for more information about food stamps in Connecticut.
Learn About Connecticut Food Stamps Requirements
The primary requirement for food stamps eligibility is a household’s income level. The SNAP income guidelines are based on the federal poverty level (FPL), and limits are determined for both gross and net monthly income levels. Gross monthly income is the total amount of income a household makes before taxes and deductions.
In Connecticut, the maximum gross monthly income a household can make is 185 percent of the FPL. Net monthly income is the amount of income that is left over after taxes and deductions for certain expenses such as rent are taken out. A household’s net monthly income may not exceed 100 percent of the FPL.
Although most households will need to meet both of these food stamp income guidelines in order to be eligible, households with a disabled or elderly person only need to meet the net monthly income limits.
In addition to income, food stamp qualifications include citizenship and residency components. In order to receive benefits, an individual must be a U.S. citizen or maintain acceptable immigration status. However, non-citizens with legal status need to meet additional requirements for SNAP eligibility. A non-citizen must meet one of the following requirements:
- Has lived in the U.S. for at least five years
- Is a child younger than 18 years of age
- Already receives assistance for a disability
- Is a refugee or asylee
Although not all members of a household may be able to apply for food stamps, non-eligible members may apply on their behalf. For example, if a legal non-citizen has not lived in the United States for five years but has children who are U.S. citizens, he or she may apply for food stamps for the children despite being ineligible for assistance themselves.
Keep in mind that all able-bodied individuals without dependents between the ages of 18 and 50 are required to meet certain work requirements in order to maintain their SNAP eligibility. In order to receive food stamps in Connecticut for more than three months within a 36-month period, the individual must work at least 20 hours per week or spend an equivalent amount of time in a work program. Failing to meet and report these standards can result in a loss of benefits. You can download our free guide for more information on how to meet food stamps requirements.
How to Apply for Food Stamps in Connecticut
Your Connecticut food stamp application will be processed through your regional DSS office. You may apply for food stamps in one of three ways. You may submit your application:
- In person.
- By mail.
When you apply, you will need to provide specific information including:
- The demographic information of each person in your household.
- Social Security Number (SSN) or Alien Registration Number (A-Number).
- Income sources.
- Information about sources of food.
Once you complete your application, a representative from the DSS will begin to process your application. You will need to complete a SNAP interview as part of the next step in the application process. In the interview, you will need to provide verification of the information that you provided on your application. This will include proof of citizenship and proof of residency. For more information about the SNAP application process, download our free guide.
Typically, the processing period after you apply for food stamps can take up to 30 days. However, under certain circumstances, you may be eligible for an expedited seven-day processing period. For example, if you have less than $100 in liquid assets and have a gross monthly income of $150 or less, you will qualify for expedited processing.
Find Out About SNAP Benefits in Connecticut
Once you are approved for SNAP assistance in Connecticut, you will begin to receive benefits on an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card. Benefits will be issued on the card on a monthly basis. You may use this card in the same manner that you would a debit or a credit card. It’s important to know that your benefits are able to purchase.
Food stamp benefits may be used to buy both staple and accessory foods. Staple foods are foods that make up the majority of a healthy diet. They include:
- Meat, poultry and fish.
- Fruits and vegetables.
- Dairy products.
- Bread and cereals.
You may purchase staple foods fresh or in a packaged form, including frozen. The SNAP program also allows individuals to buy accessory foods which may include snack foods or dessert foods. They also include foods or ingredients that can complement or supplement a deal. Alternatively, you can use benefits to purchase seeds or plants that can provide food for the household in the future.
There are also items that you will not be able to purchase using SNAP benefits. These items include any non-food items that you may also find in the grocery store including pet food, diapers and household supplies. However, SNAP food benefits may not be used to purchase:
- Medicine, vitamins or supplements.
- Live animals.
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Prepared or hot food.
It may be helpful to look for an information label on an item’s packaging to determine whether or not it would be considered a food or supplement. Food items typically have a nutrition facts label while supplements have a supplement facts label. This difference is important because some items may seem eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits. For example, gummy vitamins are not eligible for purchase while gummy snacks are.
Name: Department of Social Services
Phone Number: 1-855-626-6632
Address: 925 Housatonic Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06606
Commissioner: Deidre S. Gifford