Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about SNAP

  • General information

    What is SNAP?

    It is a nutrition assistance program designed to help people with low incomes buy nutritious foods. SNAP is not meant to meet all of your food budget needs. It is a supplement. For more details, you can read and print the SNAP brochure (DHS-2814) (PDF).

    What can I get with SNAP?

    You can use SNAP benefits only to buy food and plants and seeds to grow food for your household to eat. You cannot use it to buy:

  • • Any nonfood item, such as pet foods, household supplies like soap and paper products, or grooming items like toothpaste and cosmetics
  • • Alcoholic beverages and tobacco
  • • Vitamins and medicines
  • • Any food that will be eaten in the store
  • • Hot foods.

  • For more information, visit the Using SNAP page on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website.

    Where can I shop?

    You will receive an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card that you use like a debit card to spend your SNAP benefits. You can use your card at store that display a poster or sign that read: “We Accept EBT.”

    Grocery stores and convenience stores must sell a variety of foods to be approved to accept EBT cards. They will display the sign if they can accept EBT. The card may also be used at authorized sites for Meals on Wheels and congregate dining. Many farmers markets also accept EBT.

    Isn’t it embarrassing to use the paper coupons instead of money at a store?

    Food coupons are no longer issued. Instead, you will get an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. The EBT card looks and works like any other bank debit card, making it hard for people to tell what you are using to pay for your food.

    How much help can I get?

    SNAP is a supplemental program. Your household is expected to spend about 30 percent of your income on food. The amount of benefits you can get depends on the number of people in your household and their income.

    What is the time limit?

    SNAP does not have a time limit. SNAP benefits continue as long as you need them if you meet program rules. Please note:. Adults without children who are able to work and do not work at least 20 hours a week may only get three months of benefits in a 36-month period of time – unless an exemption, like being permanently or temporary disabled more than 30 days, it met. Households leaving the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) (PDF) may still qualify for continued food assistance.


    How do I apply for SNAP?

    • Online at

    • On paper using the Combined Application Form (PDF) - also available in Hmong (PDF), Russian (PDF), Somali (PDF), Spanish (PDF) and Vietnamese (PDF). You can print a copy or get it from your local county office. Give your completed form to your county human services office.

    After your application is reviewed, you will need to be interviewed and provide information such as your income, assets and housing costs.

    Can someone else apply for me?

    Yes, if you authorize someone to act on your behalf. It can be a friend, relative, person with power of attorney, or person appointed by the courts. You need to provide information about this person on your application. This person will then be approved as your authorized representative. They can then contact your worker, attend interviews, complete forms, provide documentation, file appeals and receive your food benefits to help keep track of it.

    What if I can’t come to the office for an interview?

    If you cannot go to your county office for an interview, you can either:

  • • Request to be interviewed over the phone
  • • Have your authorized representative attend the interview for you.
  • How long does it take after I apply to know if I qualify?

    It depends on your situation.

  • • In most cases, your worker must notify you of a decision within 30 days.
  • • For some emergency situations, you could get benefits within 24 hours five working days of your interview application..
  • How often will I need to complete paperwork after I am approved?

    It depends on your situation. Some people must complete a Combined Six-Month Report form and an annual recertification form to keep getting SNAP benefits. Some people must complete a monthly Household Report form. Your worker can tell you what you will need to do. Be sure you complete and return any paperwork that you get from your county office.

    Eligibility rules

    How much can I have in assets and still qualify for SNAP?

    Household income is the main test for determining who can get SNAP. Things such as the home you live in, retirement and savings accounts and vehicles are not counted.

    If I own a home or am in the process of buying a home, can I get SNAP?

    You may own or buy a home and still receive SNAP. The home you live in and its lot are not counted as assets.

    Will a lien be put against my home if I get SNAP?

    No. SNAP does not recover any benefits paid out using a lien against your home.

    If I am working, can I receive SNAP?

    Yes, if you meet income limits and all other program rules.

    If I’ve been laid off, or am out of work because of an illness, can I get SNAP?

    Yes, if you meet all program rules. Anyone who needs help paying for food can apply.

    After the time limit for MFIP is up, is SNAP still available?

    There is no time limit for SNAP. When MFIP runs out, your county can help you continue to get SNAP. Your worker may contact you for more information. If you do not want to keep getting SNAP, tell your worker.


    How much will I get in benefits if I qualify?

    The amount of benefits depends on your income, expenses, and the number of people in your household.

    How do I get my benefits?

    Most food benefits are issued through an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which is similar to a debit card. Each month, your benefits will be credited to your EBT account. During the month, you swipe your EBT card and the purchase are deducted is deducted from your account balance. You may authorize another person to use your EBT card. Read the General information questions above for more details about where you can shop.

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    Seniors (people age 60 or older)

    Do seniors receive credit for medical and prescription drug bills?

    Unreimbursed out-of-pocket medical costs that exceed $35 a month may be used as a deduction unless an insurance company or someone outside your household pays the bill for you. Only the amount over $35 can be deducted.

    Must senior households be reviewed for SNAP benefits every 12 months?

    If all adult members of your household are seniors or people with disabilities, the current review period is every 24 months.


    Are immigrants eligible for SNAP?

    Depending on your immigrant status, you may be eligible for SNAP. .If you do not qualify for federally funded SNAP and if you are age 50 or older, you may qualify for the Minnesota Food Assistance Program.

    If I am awaiting citizenship, can I get SNAP, or will my citizenship application be denied?

    Some immigrants are eligible for SNAP regardless of citizenship. If you receive SNAP, you are not considered a public charge under immigration laws.

    Are children born in the U.S. to illegal or undocumented immigrants eligible for SNAP?

    Children born in the U.S. are legal citizens. You may apply for SNAP for them, even if you have an illegal status or are undocumented.

    Will the county report illegal immigrant status to federal authorities?

    The county office by law can not report any illegal immigrant status to USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).

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    If I own my farm am I eligible for SNAP?

    Yes, if your farm produces income for you and your family.

    Does the value of my licensed vehicles, equipment, and supplies count toward my asset limit?

    If you are a self-employed farmer, these items are excluded as long as they are being used to produce income.

    What happens if I sell my farm on a contract for deed?

    If the contract produces income equal to the farm’s fair market value, the value of the property is excluded. The contract for deed income is counted as unearned income.

    What happens if I lease my land, but still live on the homestead?

    If the lease contract produces income equal to its fair market value, it is excluded as an asset. Your homestead and the surrounding land you own would be excluded as an asset as long as you live in it. The lease income would be counted as income.

    What if I’m trying to sell my farm, but can’t sell it?

    If you are making a good faith effort to sell it, the property is excluded as an asset.

    County offices are the best places to begin

    Because Minnesota’s SNAP program is county-administered, it is best to begin by contacting the county office where you live. These links may be helpful:

    Or you can call:

  • • The SNAP hotline at DHS in the Twin Cities metro area is 651-431-4050.
  • • Outside the metro area, call toll-free at 1-800-657-3698.
  • • For TTY service, call the Minnesota Relay at 711 or 1-800-627-3529.
  • Or go to:
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