Food Stamp FAQs

At Freedomcare, we understand that sometimes our patients need a little help with food costs.

Therefore, we have put together this FAQ page of the most common questions you might have regarding food stamps.

What is the maximum income to qualify for food stamps?

For a person or a family to qualify to use food stamps, they must meet the income requirements set forth by the SNAP program. The individual’s gross monthly income must not be more than 130% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) if they are to qualify.

The individual’s net monthly income must not exceed 100% of the FPL. Both gross and net income are taken into account when an individual is applying for food stamps.

The maximum income a person can have to qualify for food stamps varies depending on a few factors. Some primary considerations include the number of people in your household and the number of dependents that you have.

Other factors such as the amount of assets you have, disabilities, the ages of the dependents or other members of the household, and more may also be taken into account when you apply for food stamps.

buying food with food stamps

How long does it take for food stamps to get on the card after being approved?

Your food stamps are deposited onto your EBT card on the same day each month depending on the last digit of your social security number. After your food stamps are approved, they will be put onto the EBT card in 30 days or less.

For example, if you receive food stamps on the 12th of every month, and they were approved on the 10th, you will receive them on your EBT card in two days. However, if the food stamps were approved on the 13th of the month, you will have to wait until the 12th of the next month to receive the food stamps. This time period is referred to as your “SNAP month”.

How many food stamps does a homeless person get?

Contrary to the rules of some other government funded organizations, the SNAP program does not require applicants to provide a permanent address during the application process. Homeless people are eligible to apply and may use the address of an authorized representative in order to be able to receive mail from SNAP. They may also choose to pick up mail from a nearby SNAP office, or to have the mail sent to the homeless shelter where they currently reside. They need to ensure that the address they provide is easily accessible to them so that they are able to receive their EBT card and PIN code when their SNAP application is approved.

As of 2018, homeless individuals are able to receive a maximum of $192 per month in food stamps. A homeless household with two people can receive up to $353 per month in food stamps. Homeless families or households with more people may be eligible to receive more per month depending on their situation. Homeless people are also able to use their food stamps at soup kitchens and homeless shelters, and may be able to request a special card that would allow them to use their food stamps at certain participating restaurants in certain states.

How long does it take to get food stamps after the interview?

Generally, if your interview was successful and you have been found eligible for food stamps, you will receive your food stamps card (also known as an EBT card, or an Electronic Bank Transfer card) within approximately 30 days after the date of your first application. Some people can receive their food stamps sooner if they qualify.

In emergency situations, such as for individuals who have little to no income per month, they may be able to receive their food stamps within 7 days from their first application.

During the interview process, you (the applicant) may be asked to provide additional documentation to verify information or the details of your application. During this application period, you may inquire about possible deductions and extra benefits that you may be eligible for that could increase the amount of food stamps you will be able to receive each month.

If the first amount of food stamps you receive seems unusually low, it’s usually good to check back in with your local SNAP office to see if there are any deductions that you failed to claim when you were applying initially.

What happens if you get caught lying for food stamps?

Food stamp fraud can carry severe consequences, including not only hefty fines, but also the potential for jail time for the person who committed the fraud. The consequences vary from state to state.

If a food stamp agency suspects that fraud is happening, they may choose to conduct an investigation that includes visits to the household of a suspect and interviews with family members or friends.

If the agency catches a person committing food stamp fraud, they may choose to either request a disqualification hearing, or they may pursue criminal charges. In the disqualification hearing, the individual who has committed the fraud may be suspended from receiving government financial assistance for some period of time, or they may even be required to pay back some of the money that they received unlawfully.

If the agency pursues criminal charges, the individual can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony and be required to spend up to one year in prison in addition to payment of fines.

When applying for food stamps do they check your bank accounts?

When applying for food stamps, you will be required to submit proof of your monthly income and liquid assets, but the agency you apply through will not look directly into your bank accounts to verify.

However, the agency may double check your records by looking for bank accounts that you have not attested to having, and they may contact your employers or other individuals to verify that your monthly income is indeed what you say that it is. They may also require certain other banking documents to ensure that the documentation you provide is truthful and authentic.

How long do you have to wait to reapply for food stamps?

Individuals who are a part of the SNAP program may have an eligibility period of anywhere between 3 months and 3 years. For the majority of single adults between the ages of 18-50, the eligibility period is 3 months, at which point the recipient of the food stamps will need to reapply in order to continue to qualify.

Households with more individuals, such as families, average a time period of 6 months before reapplying is necessary. There is no waiting period and reapplication can happen immediately.

food stamps countable assets regulation

How much money can you have in the bank and still get food stamps?

There are regulations in regard to the countable assets that a household possesses. Individuals who are applying for food stamps may have $2,250 in countable assets, or up to $3,500 if one member of the household is over the age of 60 or is disabled. These countable assets can include a bank account, but Social Security income, pension plans, and TANF are not counted in this amount.

Keep in mind that if you own your home or have money locked away in a retirement fund or a similar non-liquid location, that these quantities and resources do not count toward the amount of countable assets that you have. Also, the quantity that you are permitted to have in a bank account at the time of your application may change over time and be different from state-to-state, so it’s always important to check in with your local food stamp office to ensure that you have the information right for your situation.

If my food stamps are ending how long do I have to use my balance?

In most states, food stamps have an “expiration date” of 365 days. Some states may impose shorter or longer time periods, but most often, food stamps are valid for one year after they’re received. During this year-long time frame, if you do not use all of your food stamps one month, the remaining amount will simply roll over to be used in the next month.

If there’s little to no activity on your EBT card over the course of the year, your local food stamp agency may contact you and ask some questions, but there is no penalty in terms of how much you will receive each month and your food stamps will not expire right away.

However, benefits that have already been put on an EBT card do not have any expiration date, as long as the EBT card does not have an expiration date. In fact, even after your case is closed with SNAP, you may still be able to use any remaining benefits on the card. Make sure to check with your local SNAP or food stamp agency to ensure that this is an acceptable practice in your state if you find yourself in this position.

How long does it take to get a food stamps card in the mail?

You will receive your food stamps card (also known as an EBT card) in the mail about 5-10 days after your application has been approved. You will also receive a PIN in the mail within a similar period of time in a different shipment from your EBT card. However, keep in mind that your EBT card will not have any food stamps until your SNAP application has been approved, so you may have to wait longer than 5-10 days to actually use the card if you are still waiting for your food stamps to be approved. If you already have an EBT card, you will not have to apply for a new one if you apply for food stamps again in the future.

How long does it take to get emergency food stamps?

If you are in a position where you need emergency food stamps, you can receive your food stamps within 7 days or sooner. In some cases, you may even be able to receive your food stamps within 24 hours. In order to obtain emergency food stamps, you have to meet one or more of the following requirements:

  • You cannot have made more than $150 in the month preceding, and you must not have more than $100 in liquid resources
  • You are a seasonal farm worker or a migrant who does not have access to money or any financial resources
  • Your monthly income and liquid resources combined are less than the total amount of your monthly rent/mortgage, heating costs, and utilities

If you meet one or more of these requirements, you must then visit your local food stamp office to apply for expedited food stamps. You will need to fill out an application form and provide a form of identification, the number and identity of the people in your household (bring ID and other relevant documents for each of these individuals, if possible), your monthly income (if any), and proof of your liquid resources.

How much do you get per child on EBT?

There is no set amount of food stamps that you receive on your EBT card for each child or dependent. The SNAP program estimates that households will spend approximately 30% of their net monthly income on food, and thus takes into account each applicant’s monthly income and number of dependents before determining the amount of food stamps to be provided.

For example, a household with 3 people may be able to receive up to $511 each month in food stamps, while a household with 8 people can receive up to $1189. Beyond 8 people, the SNAP program provides up to $146 extra per dependent per month. Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that the amount that you may receive in food stamps can be highly variable. There are also deductions and additional benefits that some people may be able to receive if they have a unique situation where they qualify, such as having a disabled child.

Can I use my EBT card at McDonald’s?

Only the Restaurant Meal Program (RMP) participating states of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Illinois, and Rhode Island allow purchases of food from fast food restaurants like McDonald’s. The SNAP program generally only allows participants to purchase foods for preparation at home, but these five states allow individuals to purchase meals from participating restaurants using their EBT card.  Participating restaurants in these states may also provide cold meals that are available specifically to food stamps recipients.

McDonald’s is only a part of RMP in the state of California. Thus, it’s only possible to use your EBT card to buy meals at participating McDonald’s restaurants in California.

Does Starbucks accept EBT?

Starbucks does not accept EBT as a form of payment in any state. Food items sold at Starbucks restaurants are not considered essential by the food stamps program and the company has not yet become a part of the RMP food stamp network anywhere in the United States.

where can I use my EBT card

Can I use EBT at KFC?

As a part of RMP, Arizona and California are the only two states where it’s possible to use an EBT card to pay for meals at KFC. Outside of these two states, KFC restaurants will not accept EBT cards as payment.

What EBT does not cover?

EBT cards and food stamps cover qualifying food items. Essential foods that can be prepared at home, as well as certain restaurant foods in some states, are covered by EBT. However, items such as entertainment devices, electronics, household items (cleaning supplies, etc.), and other non-essential food items will not be covered by EBT. When purchasing food items, you may use your EBT card at any grocery store, farmer’s market, convenience store, or other qualifying establishment that sells food items.

Foods that are covered by food stamps include:

  • Breads and cereals
  • Fresh produce
  • Meats, poultry, seafood, and dairy products
  • Bakery items, cakes, cookies, and candies (cakes must not have any non-edible parts that comprise 50% or more of the cake)
  • Energy drinks (that have a nutrition label)
  • Seeds and plants that will produce food for the household
  • Soft drinks
  • Pumpkins that are edible
  • Ice cream
  • Live seafood

Items and consumables that are not covered by food stamps include:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tobacco products
  • Non-food items
  • Pet food
  • Medicines and vitamins
  • Paper products
  • Cosmetics and personal care and grooming items
  • Paper products
  • Hot food and any food sold to be eaten on-site (such as in a restaurant)