Former Food Stamp Worker Shares Secret To Getting More Food Stamps
SNAP (aka: Food Stamps)
The SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance) program was started in 1961 as a pilot program to fill a need. There were still thousands of people having difficulty making ends meet since the economy had not completely recovered from the Great Depression and the USDA helped by giving out free food products (powdered milk, cheese, and other foodstuffs) to financially eligible people. The government later issued actual paper coupons in different denominations, giving it the name Food Stamps. To deal with the stigma attached to that name, the Federal government decided to change the name of the program to "SNAP", but many people continue to use the phrase Food Stamps.
In spite of Federal funding, each state has it's own application form, a hotline number for questions, and a website where you should be able to print an application. Several states allow you to apply online, but you will need to check with your state to see if yours is on the list. Most states have begun the 211 service which is also a resource for finding out about food stamps in your city or county.
Tips on Getting More Food Stamps
Yes, it's true that the amount of food stamps your family is eligible for depends on how many are in your household and what your monthly income is. The total amount you are eligible for is measured on a sliding scale. For instance, a household size of 1 with no income is eligible for about $200 in many states. If you make $500 per month, you will not get the full $200, but may be eligible for around $125, with the most you can make per month around the $1200 limit to be eligible for even $1 in food stamps. Only a worker can make the determination.
Also, keep in mind that resources may count. Ordinarily, a household may have up to $2000 in resources, such as money in the bank, CD's, property value if the property is not lived on, etc. In 2009, the government issued new rules on resources because of the worsening economy. They stated that until the Fall of 2010, resources would not count against a person's eligibility.
The rules would extend depending on how well the economy was recovering. Check with your local offfice to get an update on resources. Many workers in our office used to fume that a person could have a million dollars in the bank if they had lost their job or had no other income then they could still be eligible for food stamps.
Now, here's a huge tip: the amount of food stamps you are eligible for is based on the size of your household.However, what is a household? It is people who live and eat together in your home. Your household could be just you, or you and a child who lives with the other parent IF the other parent is not getting food stamps on that child and IF that child spends at least one night in your home each month.One lady even added a teenager whose grandparent lived next to her because the teenager was spending several nights each week at her house with her kids. If two friends share a house, and one of them is working, but the other is not, then the person who is unemployed can still get food stamps using his zero income if he or she states that they are a separate household and stores and prepares food separately.
Now--your income: If you are fortunate to live in a state that has gone to the Benefit Review Reporting system, and you are unemployed, you can apply for food stamps tomorrow morning and be approved for the maximum amount, find a job next week, and still continue to receive the maximum amount for the next 5 months, until it's time for your review, at which time the computer will accept the new income amount. Be prepared to explain how the bills are getting paid, but don't let it discourage you from applying.
Finally, remember that if you have worked before, you have paid taxes. Taxes are what keeps the food stamp program going. So, if you find yourself in need of food stamps, those are YOUR tax dollars--don't feel discouraged about having to apply!