Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

 

  1. What is SNAP?
  2. Is SNAP the same as Food Stamps or Food Support?
  3. How does SNAP work?
  4. If I get SNAP, how much money will I get each month on my card?
  5. Who can get help from SNAP?
  6. Does it matter how long I have lived in Minnesota to be eligible for SNAP?
  7. Are there any asset limits for SNAP?
  8. What are the exceptions to the increased income guidelines and elimination of the asset limit for SNAP effective November 1, 2010?
  9. How do I get an application for SNAP?
  10. What is the application like?
  11. Do I have to go in person to apply?
  12. What else do I have to do to apply?
  13. How soon will I be able to get on the program?
  14. What do I have to do to stay on the program?
  15. Is there a limit to how long I can get SNAP?
  16. Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to get SNAP?
  17. Can undocumented immigrants get SNAP?
  18. I am an immigrant. If I get SNAP, will I be a public charge?
  19. If I am getting help from the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), can I still get SNAP when I leave the program?
  20. What if I am a student, can I receive SNAP?
  21. Will a lien be placed upon my home if I get SNAP?
What is SNAP?
It is a program that helps people with lower incomes pay for nutritious food, which helps kids to grow up strong and helps adults to stay healthy. SNAP (formerly Food Support and often referred to as "food stamps") does not pay for all the food that a person or a family needs each month, just some of it.

SNAP is administered by the Minnesota Department of Human Services but eligibility and case management is done by county human services departments.
Is SNAP the same as Food Stamps or Food Support?
SNAP is the name of Food Stamps in Minnesota. As of October 1, 2008, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the new name for the federal Food Stamp Program, and on February 1, 2012 the program name in Minnesota was changed from Food Support to SNAP. We don’t call the program “Food Stamps” anymore because you don’t get stamps to buy food. You get a card.
How does SNAP work?
Once you get SNAP, you will get a plastic card that looks like a credit or debit card. It is called your EBT card. Every month, the card will be filled up with the money for you to buy food at places that accept SNAP, such as grocery stores. When you get to the check-out line, you swipe your card and then enter a code number that you have picked (called a PIN or Personal Identification Number).  The PIN helps keep your benefits safe if you lose your card.  The cost of your food will be subtracted from the amount of money on your card. You can use your card to buy groceries or plants and seeds to grow food. Seniors can also use their cards at some Meals on Wheels and Congregate Dining sites. You cannot use your card to buy other things like clothes.
If I get SNAP, how much money will I get each month on my card?
It depends on your income, expenses and the number of people who live with you. The average monthly benefit amount per person in Minnesota is $118. If you have more people living in your household and sharing food, you will get more money to buy food. The minimum monthly benefit is $16.
Who can get help from SNAP?
Lots of people, including single adults, families and seniors. For most people, it depends on how much money you make (your income). The following families are eligible for SNAP with no asset or income test:
  • Families in which at least 1 child in the household is eligible to receive Basic Sliding Fee Child Care and/or the Transition Year Child Care. The family must have applied and been found eligible for the Child Care Assistance Program but can still be on the waiting list.
  • Families participating in the Diversionary Work Program (DWP).
  • Families composed entirely of people who receive General Assistance (GA), Minnesota Supplemental Aid (MSA), or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in Minnesota.
Does it matter how long I have lived in Minnesota to be eligible for SNAP?
No. This doesn’t matter. You can be eligible for SNAP even if you just came to Minnesota. You can also be eligible for SNAP even if you don’t plan to stay in Minnesota for a long time.
Are there any asset limits for SNAP?
No. There is no longer an asset limit for SNAP effective November 1, 2010.
What are the exceptions to the increased income guidelines and elimination of the asset limit for SNAP effective November 1, 2010?

The traditional income limit of 130% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and asset limits of $3,000 for the elderly/disabled persons and $2,000 for other persons will still apply in the following situations:

  • A household member has an intentional program violation.
  • A household member receiving SNAP fails to comply with six-month or monthly reporting requirements.
  • The Primary Wage Earner (PWE) fails to comply with work requirements.
  • A household member receiving SNAP is convicted of a drug related felony.
How do I get an application for SNAP?
The application is called the Combined Application Form (CAF). You can get one at your county social services office. You can also get an application on this website by clicking here.
What is the application like?

The application is about 15 pages long, plus instructions. It is available in English, Spanish, Hmong, Somali, Khmer (Cambodian), Lao, Vietnamese, Arabic, Oromo, Serbo-Croatian (Bosnian) and Russian. It will ask you about everyone who lives with you, how much money they make, and what they own (assets). If you want, you can use this same application to apply for cash assistance (MFIP or DWP) or a health program (Medical Assistance, MinnesotaCare, or GAMC). Fill it out and then bring it to the county office to apply. You can also use the Program Directory on this website to find organizations by county that will help you fill out the application.

Do I have to go in person to apply?
No. After you turn in your application, you will have to do an interview with a county worker. It may not happen on the same day. If you cannot get to an interview, you can send a friend or relative to apply for you, or you can request to be interviewed over the phone.
What else do I have to do to apply?
During your interview, you will have to bring proof of your income (such as check stubs) and your expenses. When you turn in your application, you will learn what you need to bring to your interview.
How soon will I be able to get on the program?
It depends. For some emergencies, you can get help within five days. For most people, you will find out in within a month from the day you turn in your application.
What do I have to do to stay on the program?
If the number of people living with you changes or your income changes, you need to call the county office and tell them within 10 days. If you have money from work (earned income), you have to fill out a report that comes in the mail every six months. You have to mail it back with proof of income (like check stubs). If you do not have money from work (no earned income), you will only have to do paperwork every 12 months.
Is there a limit to how long I can get SNAP?

There are no limits to how long you can get SNAP if you have children/dependents living in your household or are under age 18 or over age 50.

If you are a single, able-bodied adult without dependents in your home, you can only receive SNAP for 3 months in a 36-month period. To get SNAP for more than three months in a 36-month time period you need to meet one of the following:

  • You participate in an approved employment program at least 80 hours per month
  • You are receiving cash assistance
  • You are certified unable to work
  • You live on Bois Forte, Fond Du Lac, Grand Portage, Leech Lake, Lower Sioux, Mille Lacs, Prairie Island, Red Lake, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux, Upper Sioux, or White Earth Reservations
  • You live in Aitkin, Becker, Beltrami, Carlton, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Isanti, Itasca, Kanabec, Kittson, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Norman, Pennington, Pine, Polk, Red Lake, Roseau, Todd or Wadena counties
  • You are pregnant
  • You are under age 18 or older than age 50
Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to get SNAP?
No. You must be a U.S. citizen or have an acceptable immigration status. However, if only some people in your household have acceptable immigration status, you can apply just for them. Most people will need a Social Security Number (or proof of application if the number is pending) to apply. There are exceptions to this rule. If you are under age 18 or over age 49, or have been a lawful U.S. resident for more than 5 years, or are a refugee or asylee, you do NOT need a Social Security Number to apply.
Can undocumented immigrants get SNAP?
Undocumented immigrants cannot get SNAP. But if some people in your family can get SNAP, but others cannot, you can apply just for those people who qualify. If you are undocumented, but your children were born in the U.S., you can get SNAP for your children. The county worker cannot tell USCIS (INS) about you or other people living with you. You do not have to tell the worker about the immigration status of people that you are not applying for, but you have to tell how many people live with you and how much money they make.
I am an immigrant. If I get SNAP, will I be a public charge?

Due to a recent federal change in the definition of public charge, which went into effect in February of 2020, accessing SNAP may put some immigrant groups at risk of receiving a public charge determination. 

Not all immigrant groups are subject to a public charge test. However, if you fall into one of the following categories you WILL BE subject to a public charge determination: an immigrant applying for permanent residency or green card; seeking admission of a family member or spouse on an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa; a temporary visa holder or applicant in the United States;  or a green card holder who obtained their green card within the last five years and are applying for United States citizenship. Read more.

You are NOT subject to a public charge determination, if you fall into the following immigration categories: current green card holders and lawful permanent residents; refugees;, asylees; survivors of trafficking, domestic violence, or other serious crimes; T or U visa applicants/holders; VAWA self-petitioners; and special immigrant juveniles.

When using the Bridge to Benefits screening tool, if you fall into one of the immigration categories that ARE subject to public charge determination, you may want to check with an immigration specialist before enrolling in SNAP. 

If you fall into an immigration category that is NOT subject to public charge determination, you should apply for any of the programs on the Bridge to Benefits site for which you appear eligible.

For a full list of those not subject to the public charge test and for more information, see the National Immigration Law Center. If you have questions about whether or not you could be deemed a public charge for accessing any of the programs included on this site, please contact Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid at 612-334-5970. 

 

 

If I am getting help from the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), can I still get SNAP when I leave the program?
Most people leaving MFIP can still get SNAP. You have to have income and assets below the limits to get help.
What if I am a student, can I receive SNAP?

In addition to meeting general SNAP ncome and eligibility guidelines, students must meet at least one of the following criteria: They are

  • Under age 18 or over age 50,
  • Physically or mentally unable to work,
  • Attending a school that is not considered high-ed or they do not go to school full-time,
  • Employed for at least 20 hours a week,
  • Participating in work-study program,
  • Caring for a child under age 6, or a child between 6 and 11 when childcare is unavailable,
  • A single parent with a child under 12,
  • Participating in a Workforce Investment Act (WIA) or similar work program, or
  • Participating in on-the-job training where they are paid to learn new skills by an employer
Will a lien be placed upon my home if I get SNAP?
No.