Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
What can you use SNAP for?
You can use SNAP to buy food and seeds and plants to grow food for your household to eat. SNAP benefits can be used at a grocery store, a supermarket, a farmer’s market, a shelter that serves meals, or at a soup kitchen. You cannot use SNAP to buy non-food items, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, pet food, vitamins, medicines, lunch counter items, or foods to be eaten in the store. Restaurants can be authorized to accept SNAP from qualified recipients (homeless, elderly or disabled) in exchange for meals. Sales tax cannot be charged on items bought with SNAP. SNAP cannot be exchanged for cash.
How is SNAP paid out to you?
Pennsylvania uses Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) to deliver SNAP benefits. For every month you are eligible, your benefits are automatically deposited into your EBT account. You receive a plastic card with a magnetic strip and a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to access your EBT account at authorized food outlets. The cost of the SNAP items you purchase will be subtracted from the amount on your EBT account. Once your transaction is completed you will receive a receipt that shows the amount of your products purchased and the amount of SNAP benefits remaining.
Who is eligible for SNAP?
Most low-income households are eligible for SNAP benefits. Households that are not eligible for other public benefits may be eligible for SNAP. The income limit for this program is nearly twice as high as the income limit for cash assistance. Even people who are homeless or live in a temporary shelter may be eligible.
What does “household” mean?
People who live together and buy food and prepare meals together are grouped as a “household” even if they are not related. There can be one or more separate SNAP households in a residence. Some household members (spouses and most children under age 22) must be included in the same household.
Where can you apply for SNAP?
If all members of a household are eligible for SSI, an application for SNAP can be filed at the local social security office. Otherwise, you can apply at your county assistance office or online through the COMPASS system. If you qualify for SNAP, the county assistance office has 30 days to provide you with SNAP benefits. Benefits will begin from the day the application is turned in. In some emergency situations, you may be entitled to begin receiving SNAP within 7 days after you apply. If you qualify for emergency benefits, proof of identification (such as a driver’s license) is the only thing you must show to get the first month’s benefit. You will have to supply other required documentation if you want to keep getting SNAP.
What are the resource limits for SNAP?
Currently, households may have $2,250 in countable resources (such as cash or money in a bank account) or $3,500 in countable resources if at least one member of the household is age 60 or older, or is disabled. These amounts are updated annually.
However, certain resources are NOT counted when determining eligibility for SNAP:
- A home and lot;
- Resources of people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
- Resources of people who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF; also known as welfare); and
- Most retirement and pension plans (withdrawals from these accounts may count as either income or resources depending on how often they occur).
- One motor vehicle
What are the income limits for SNAP?
If everyone in your household is receiving cash assistance or SSI, you are eligible for food stamps regardless of your income. If your household contains an elderly or disabled person and if you have high medical expenses or high shelter costs, you may be eligible for food stamps regardless of your income. For other households, the gross monthly income cannot exceed these limits:
|Household Members||Gross Monthly Income Limit (130 percent of poverty)|
Once you are eligible for SNAP how is the amount determined?
The amount of SNAP benefits received is called an allotment and is determined by the number of people in the household, the amount of income, and the amount of certain household expenses. The maximum amount of benefits that can be received per month by a household of one person is $194, of two persons is $355, and you continue to add $146 per person in the household.
What if your household income changes every month?
A Monthly Reporting Form which gives information about your income and circumstances may be required. The information you report is usually used to determine the amount of your allotment approximately two months later. It is extremely important to follow the reporting requirements so that your household gets the right amount of SNAP benefits.
Do you have to participate in a work or training activities to be eligible for SNAP benefits?
All able bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD) in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler and Lawrence counties will be limited to three months of SNAP benefits, unless they fulfill work requirements.
Do you have to file for child support to be eligible for SNAP benefits?