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July 19, 2024

How Do I Get Food Stamps?

If you are a low-income family having difficulty making ends meet, you can be eligible to receive food stamps, which will help you buy food for your family.  Anyone can apply for food stamps, but in order to qualify for the program you must meet certain requirements.  Everyone who is applying for food stamps in the same household must have a Social Security number and either be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or have a qualified alien status.

One of the general rules used to determine whether or not you are eligible for the food stamp program is the dollar amount of resources in your household.  To be eligible for the program you can not have more than $2,000 in resources in your household.  However, if your household includes someone who is 60 years of age or older or who is disabled, you are allowed $3,000 in resources.  Resources can be classified as cash, bank accounts and other property.

Not every item you own counts towards this resource limit.  For example, your house and the land it sits on is not taken into consideration when applying for food stamps.  Conversely, a car or truck can count, depending on how it is used.  In addition to this resource rule households must also meet an income limit.  Just like with the resource limit, if you have someone over the age of 60 living with you your income limit is allowed to be higher.  The income limits vary by household size routinely change each year.  You will need to contact your local Social Security agency to see what the income limits are for your state.

Applying for food stamps is a relatively easy process.  You can find food stamp applications at any Social Security office.  If you are applying for or already receiving Supplemental Security Income payments, any Social Security office will be able to help you fill out the food stamp application and submit it to the local food stamp office.  For everyone else who is not receiving SSI payments you will need to take the food stamp application directly to the food stamp office or to a Social Security office where a food stamp representative works.  Upon handing in your application you will go through a small interview and should have the following items to make that interview as smooth as possible:

•    Identification such as a driver’s license, state ID, birth certificate or alien card;
•    Proof of income such as pay stubs, Social Security, SSI or a pension for each member of your household;
•    Proof of how much you spend for child care;
•    Rent receipts or proof of your mortgage payments;
•    Records of your utility costs; and
•    Medical bills for those members of your household age 60 or older, and for those who receive government payments such as Social Security or SSI because they are disabled.

Having to apply for food stamps can be a stressful time in someone’s life.  Knowing exactly what you need to make the application process as smooth as possible can reduce a lot of the stress associated with receiving food stamps.  If you have any questions about your local food stamp application process you can call the Social Security office’s toll free number at 1-800-772-1213.

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