Food stamps, known technically as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, are a benefit are designed to help those who need it to purchase and eat healthy food. Food stamps are administered by state governments but funded by the federal government. There are requirements for food stamp eligibility, and an application process must be completed.
The first time you apply for food stamps, you must prove that you meet all the requirements as posted by your state government. These requirements include that you are employed at least part-time, have a valid Social Security number, do not have assets amounting to more than $2,000 in most cases (including any vehicle you may own) and have insufficient income to cover the cost of food after all living expenses have been factored in. Both a paper application and an interview are required for this first application.
If you are denied food stamp benefits, you may reapply at any time. If you currently fail to meet the requirements but your situation changes in the near future you are free to reapply with your new information as many times as you wish. Since the ability to buy food is vital, the restrictions on food assistance benefits are far less prohibitive than other benefits programs.
If you are approved for food stamps, you can continue to receive them for as long as you need them -- although you may have to recertify your eligibility from time to time as required by state law. Such recertifications are not considered to be new applications but continuations of your original application, subject to verification. They are typically carried out by mail or in person at a local benefits office. Unlike unemployment benefits, which have a certain time limit, or cash assistance programs that vary from state to state, food stamps have no set end date.
If you have applied for food stamps and been denied, you can request a hearing to review your case and explain why you believe you are eligible. If your circumstances have not changed since you applied and you feel you will be denied again if you reapply, a hearing may be the best way to go. You can reapply instead if you wish, as many times as necessary.
- Idaho Dept of Health and Welfare: Food Stamp Frequently Asked Questions
- Massachusetts Resources: SNAP Food Stamps
- United States Dept of Agriculture: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
- Social Security: Nutrition Assistance Progams
- Social Security: SNAP Facts
- Food and Nutrition Service. "SNAP Data Tables, Latest Available Month July 2019 State Level Participation & Benefits," Accessed Oct. 21, 2019.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Official USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels, U.S. Average, August 2019," Accessed Oct. 21, 2019.
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "A Quick Guide to SNAP Eligibility and Benefits," Accessed Oct. 21, 2019.
- USDA." What Can SNAP Buy?" Accessed Oct. 21, 2019.
Robert Morello has an extensive travel, marketing and business background. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in 2002 and has worked in travel as a guide, corporate senior marketing and product manager and travel consultant/expert. Morello is a professional writer and adjunct professor of travel and tourism.