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What should I know about Food Stamps (SNAP)?

Authored By: GeorgiaLegalAid.org
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Important Covid-19 Update Food Stamps (SNAP) in Georgia Resources

Important Covid-19 Update

The federal government announced some changes to SNAP eligibility rules during the coronavirus crisis.

 

If you are an adult without a child in your household and you were told you didn't qualify for food stamps, you should reapply for SNAP now. Because of COVID-19 the government has temporarily suspended the work requirements for adults without children. If you were told that you could not get food stamps because you were over the three month time limit, you may be able to get them now.

 

If you are out of work or low-income, even if you were denied food stamps in the past, you should apply now:

 

 

Food Stamps (SNAP) in Georgia

What should I know? +

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What is SNAP? 

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a government program that used to be called food stamps. SNAP helps low-income people buy food. SNAP is a federal program that is run by state agencies. 

 

SNAP benefits can be used to buy food for your household to eat. SNAP cannot be used to buy:

  • Hot pre-prepared foods, 

  • Foods meant to be eaten or reheated in a store,

  • Vitamins or medicines,

  • Alcoholic drinks,

  • Cigarettes, cigars, or other tobacco products, 

  • Non-food items. 

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Who is eligible for SNAP?

To be eligible for SNAP benefits, your household must meet certain eligibility requirements. A household is every person who lives in your home and buys and prepares food together. 

 

To be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Citizenship requirement. All people in the household must show proof of citizenship or immigration status. If an individual does not want to give their social security number or give information about immigration status, that person will not be eligible for SNAP benefits. 

  • Income requirements. Most households must meet both gross and net income limits. 

    • Gross income is your total income before taxes or any other deductions. 

    • Net income is the amount left over after taxes and deductions are taken out. Deductions include:

      • housing costs, 

      • Court-ordered child-support payments, and 

      • child/dependent care payments. 

      • Household members who receive disability payments, or who are over 60, can deduct out-of-pocket medical expenses.

    • Households who only have to meet the net income requirement include:

      • A household with an elderly person,

      • A household with a person receiving disability payments.

    • If everyone in the household receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), you are automatically income-eligible.

 

  • Resource requirements. Most households can only have up to $2,500 in resources. Households that include a person 60 or older, or a person with a disability can have up to $3,500 in resources. 

    • Resources are things you own, including cash or money in a bank account. 

    • Resources do not include your car, your home, or SSI and TANF benefits. 

 

  • Work requirements. If you are eligible, you may have a time-limit for SNAP benefits if you:

    • Are an adult between 18 and 49;

    • Do not have a child;

    • Are unemployed;

    • Do not have a disability.

 

To avoid the time-limit, you must: 

  • work or be in school at least 80 hours per month, 

  • live in an exempt area, or 

  • prove you are unable to work due to:

    • Pregnancy,

    • Physical or mental health reasons,

    • Caring for a child or incapaciated family member.

 

 

Even if you meet these requirements, you may still not be eligible for SNAP. You are not eligible if you are:

  • A worker who is on strike,

  • An unauthorized immigrant,

  • In some cases, even authorized immigrants are not eligible for SNAP if they have not lived in the United States long enough. 

  • Convicted drug felon,

  • Fleeing felons,

  • Individuals sanctioned for violating SNAP rules,

  • If you are a childless adult without a disability, you may only get three months of SNAP benefits every three years.

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What are my rights with SNAP?

You have rights with SNAP, including:

  • The right to get an application the day you ask for it;

  • The right to have your application accepted when you file it;

  • The right to have any adult apply for your household apply for you if you can’t go to the food stamp office;

  • If you are 60 or older, or have a disability, you have the right to a home visit or telephone interview;

  • If you are eligible, you have the right to get your EBT card and PIN within 30 days of filing your application;

  • If you are eligible for expedited services, you have the right to get your EBT card and PIN within 7 days;

  • The right not to be discriminated against on the basis of  race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, political affiliation, or disability. If you are discriminated against, you have the right to file a complaint;

  • The right to a hearing if you disagree with a SNAP decision;

  • The right to look at your SNAP file;

  • The right to be notified if your benefits are reduced or stopped. 

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What are my responsibilities?

Your responsibilities include: 

  • You can begin your application by completing your name, contact information, date and your signature. However, you are responsible for completing the whole SNAP application.

  • You are responsible to tell the truth in your application.  You will need to provide proof of your eligibility.

  • You are responsible for reporting any changes in your household circumstances. In Georgia, you only have to report a change when your total gross monthly income exceeds 130% of the federal poverty level for your household size. 

  • You are responsible for not selling, trading, or giving away your food stamp benefits. 

  • You can only buy approved items with our food stamps. You cannot buy alcohol or cigarettes with SNAP benefits. 

 

If you break any of the food stamp rules on purpose, at the very least, you will not get food stamps for one year. Depending on the rule, you could also be fined, prosecuted, or banned from the program for a longer period of time.

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What can I do? +

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How can I apply for SNAP?

You can apply for SNAP online at Georgia Gateway or at your local Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) office

 

To apply for benefits, any household member, or an adult representing the household, can complete a SNAP application. 

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What happens during the SNAP interview?

After your application is filed with DFCS, a member of your household, or an adult representing the household, will be interviewed by a person from DFCS. The interview may be in the DFCS office or over the phone. If you are elderly or a person with a disability, the interview may be completed over the phone or at your home. 

 

At the interview, you will be asked to provide proof of your identity, income, and resources. You may be asked for:

  • Proof of identity, 

  • Proof of citizenship (birth certificate)

  • Proof of immigration status,

  • Social security numbers for everyone in your household,

  • Proof of income for each household member,

  • Proof of rent or mortgage payment,

  • Medical bills for people 60 or older, or people with a disability,

  • Childcare receipts. 

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How much will I get in SNAP benefits?

The amount of your monthly benefits will depend on: 

  • How many people are in your household,

  • The combined net and gross income of your household. 

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How do I get my SNAP benefits?

The person you decide is your “head of household” will get an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card. This card will be mailed to you along with a Personal Identification Number (PIN). Each month, your SNAP benefits will be loaded onto the card. You can use your card to buy food in authorized stores.
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How can I appeal a SNAP decision?

If you are denied benefits or disagree with any decision on your SNAP benefits, you can request a hearing. To request a hearing, call or contact your local DFCS office by phone or in writing. You must contact your local DFCS office within 90 days if your were denied based on eligibility. There may be other SNAP decisions which you disagree with. In some cases, you have less time to appeal.

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Resources

Last Review and Update: Jan 16, 2020