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What is SNAP?
It is a nutrition assistance program designed to help people with low incomes buy nutritious foods. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). For more information about the program,(PDF) click here.
What can I get with SNAP?
SNAP can only be used for food and for plants and seeds to grow food for your household to eat. It cannot be used to buy:
For further information visit Using SNAP page of the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service.
Where can I shop?
Grocery stores and convenience stores must sell a variety of foods in order to be authorized to accept Minnesota’s Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which is similar to a debit card. Each month, your EBT account is credited with your benefits. During the month, you use your card to purchase food at enrolled grocery stores. Authorized stores will display a poster or sign that reads: “We Accept EBT.” The card may also be used at authorized sites for Meals on Wheels and congregate dining.
How much can I get?
SNAP a supplemental program; your household is expected to spend about 30 percent of your resources on food. The amount of benefits will vary depending upon the number of people in your household and their income and assets.
What is the time limit?
SNAP does not have a time limit. As long as you meet program requirements, SNAP benefits continue as long as you need them. However, able-bodied adults without children who are able to work and do not work a minimum of 20 hours a week may only be eligible for three months of benefits in a 36-month period of time. Households exiting the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) (PDF) may still qualify for continued food assistance.
How hard is it to apply?
First you must fill out the Combined Application Form (CAF) (PDF) you get from your local county office or print from the Minnesota Department of Human Services forms website. Complete the form and give it to your county human services office. You will also need to be interviewed and provide information such as your income, assets and housing costs.
What about other languages?
Can I apply for someone else?
If appointed as an authorized representative, you may contact the agency, attend interviews, complete forms, provide documentation, appeal county agency decisions, and/or receive food benefits for someone else. An authorized representative can be a friend, relative, person with power of attorney, or person appointed by the courts. To be appointed as an authorized representative, the client must list information about you on the Combined Application Form.
What if I can’t come to the office for an interview?
If you are unable to go to your county office for an interview, you can authorize a friend or relative who is familiar with your circumstances to apply on your behalf. This person is called an authorized representative. You can also request to be interviewed over the telephone.
How much am I allowed to have in assets and still receive SNAP?
Households applying for or receiving Food Support do not have an asset limit as long as the Domestic Violence Information Brochure (PDF) has been received and the household’s income is at or below 165 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. The value of a vehicle is not used when determining eligibility for Food Support.
How long does it take after I apply to know if I qualify?
It depends on your situation. For some emergency situations, you could be issued benefits within 24 hours of your interview. For most situations, your worker must notify you of a decision within 30 days.
How much will I receive 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 distributed through Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT), which is similar to a debit card. Each month, your EBT account is credited with your benefits. During the month, you use your card to purchase food at enrolled grocery stores. You swipe your EBT card through a point-of-sale terminal and the purchases are deducted from your account balance. You may authorize an additional person to use your EBT card. SNAP benefits can be used to buy food, or plants and seeds to grow food for you or your family. They may also be used at authorized sites for Meals on Wheels and congregate dining. Also see Using SNAP on the Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) Web site for more information.
Will a lien be put against my home if I receive SNAP?
No. SNAP does not consider the home you live in toward your assets and it does not recover any benefits paid out as a lien against your home.
How often do I have to complete the paperwork?
In most cases if you are in Six-month Reporting, you will need to complete a Combined Six-Month Report Form and an annual recertification form in order to continue receiving SNAP benefits. If you receive SNAP benefits, live with a MFIP unit, and have earned income, you may have to complete a Household Report form and return it with proof of that income each month. You must complete and return all paperwork you receive from your county office.
Once the time limit for MFIP is up, is SNAP still available?
There is no time limit for SNAP. Once MFIP runs out, your county can help you continue to receive SNAP. Your financial worker may contact you for more information. If you do not want to continue receiving food support, contact your financial worker.
If I have a checking account or savings account am I eligible?
SNAP eligibility depends on your household’s income. Households must have income at or below 165 percent of the Federal Poverty Guideline and have received the Domestic Violence Information Brochure (PDF),
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.
If I am working, can I receive SNAP?
SNAP is a form of assistance that benefits people with low incomes who work. As long as you meet income and asset limits, you are eligible.
If I’ve been laid off, or am out of work because of an illness, am I eligible for SNAP?
Anyone who needs food assistance can apply.
Must everyone go to the county office for an interview?
If you are not able to go to the county office, you may request a telephone interview. You may also ask a relative, pastor, neighbor, etc., to attend the interview for you as an authorized representative.
If I own a home or am in the process of buying a home, will I be eligible for Food Support?
You may own or buy a home and still receive SNAP. Your home and its lot are not considered assets, and the program does not require you to sign away your home.
Do seniors receive credit for medical and prescription drug bills?
Unreimbursed out-of-pocket medical expenses that exceed $35 a month may be used as a deduction unless an insurance company or someone who is not a household member pays for them. Only the amount over $35 can be deducted.
Must senior households be reviewed for SNAP benefits every three months?
If all adult members of your household are seniors or disabled, the current review period is every 24 months.
If I am awaiting citizenship, can I receive SNAP, or will my citizenship application be denied?
Some immigrants are eligible for food support 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, and you may apply for SNAP for them, even if you have an illegal status or are undocumented.
Will the county office 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).
Are immigrants eligible for SNAP?
Depending on your immigrant status, you may be eligible for SNAP. There is also a State Funded Food Program for immigrants who do not qualify for federally funded SNAP if you are 50 years of age or older.
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 farm land count toward my asset limit?
For self-employed farmers, the farm land you own to produce income is excluded from the SNAP asset limit.
If I quit farming, will my farm land continue to be excluded?
Yes, for one year after you quit farming. After one year, the farm land would be a counted asset.
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 consistent with the farm’s fair market value, it is excluded.
What happens if I lease my land, but still live on the homestead?
If the lease contract produces income consistent with its fair market value, it is excluded as an income-producing asset. Your homestead and the surrounding land you own would be excluded as an asset as long as you live in it.
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. The farm might be considered a non-liquid asset under one of the following conditions:
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:
In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, DHS is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs, or disability.
To file a complaint of discrimination write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call 1-800-795-3272 (voice), or 202-720-6382. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
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