How to Get SNAP Benefits

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The most widely known food assistance program in the United States is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. However, figuring out how to receive these benefits can be tricky sometimes. If you’re having a hard time feeding yourself and/or your family, follow these steps:
Check Eligibility
Before applying, you will want to make sure you have a good chance of getting accepted. Some states provide a prescreening tool on their website. You can find state SNAP benefit pages here. There is also a federal screening tool here. If you are receiving TANF, SSI, or other government assistance, you can skip this step.
You can either apply or at your local SNAP office, depending on your state. The application process is fairly quick and simple. Double check it when you are done to make sure that all of your information is correct; this could be the difference between whether your application is accepted or denied.
Your caseworker will schedule an interview in which you will explain your situation to them. You may need to bring two forms of identification, proof of income, and gas, power, and/or water bills. Make sure to ask your caseworker what you will need prior to the appointment.
Applications can take up to 30 days to process. Make sure to return requested documents as soon as possible, as this can delay the process. Most states will deny your application if you don’t return them in a specified amount of time. A overstretched workload can also delay your application process time
Receive Benefits
If you are approved, you will receive your card and benefits within 30 days of approval. Don’t be alarmed if you receive your card with a $0 balance. Your benefits will soon be deposited. 
Once you have received your benefits, you may use them at most grocery stores as well as some restaurants and convenience stores. Remember that alcohol, tobacco, toiletries, and cleaning supplies are not eligible for purchase with your SNAP benefits. However, you may use your benefits to buy seeds so that you can grow your own food! 

By: Alecia Stanton

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