How to Apply for Food Stamp & Medicaid Benefits

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Food stamps and Medicaid are both federally funded programs offering aid to individuals and families who need additional help. Food stamps are no longer stamps or paper -- they instead are tied to a debit card that you can use like any debit card at the grocery store. Medicaid benefits are submitted the same as regular insurance. Although both programs are federally funded, they are administered by individual states.

Locate your local county health department or family resources office. Sometimes this is called a Job Center or the Department of Health or Social Services for your county. Go to this office and ask for an application. If it is an emergency situation, you should be able to fill out the application and turn it in right away. If you are unable to locate the local department in your area, go on the Internet and search for your state's department of health and human services or call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213. You should be able to either download the form online, print it out and mail it to your local office or fill it out directly online, depending on your state.

Fill out the appropriate forms. In most states, you can apply for both food stamps and Medicaid at the same time.

Gather the documents required by your state. This will be, at minimum, a copy of birth certificates, Social Security numbers and government photo ID of the adults and children in the family. You may also need to supply the office with a copy of your paycheck stub or income tax return. Federal poverty guidelines are used to determine food stamp and Medicaid eligibility.

Find out if your income is at least 200 percent or less above the poverty level. In most states, a family that makes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level will qualify for some amount of aid. As of August 2010, a family of four living in the 48 contiguous United States or the District of Columbia is considered at poverty level by the federal government if they make $22,050 or less each year. Add or subtract $3,740 for each additional person in a family or each fewer person in a family.

Arrange for an interview. You can do this either in person or over the phone. If you need to do it over the phone, you will have to mail or fax the needed documentation to the office.

Wait for the results of your application. If you are approved for food stamps and Medicaid, you will receive your benefits letter and the appropriate cards in the mail. If not, you will receive notification of this as well.


About the Author

Michelle Hogan is a writer and the author of 13 books including the 2005 bestselling memoir, "Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (With Kids) in America." Hogan studied English at American University and has been writing professionally since 1998. Her work has appeared in "The New York Times," "Redbook," "Family Circle" and many other publications.

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