The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help you pay for groceries at several retailers. Although many still call the program “food stamps,” participants now receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card that works like a debit card. You simply swipe your EBT card at the cashier’s register to pay for qualified products.
If approved, your state sends your SNAP benefits to your account monthly. EBT benefits amounts depend on your state’s maximum award and the number of people living in your household. The national average for SNAP benefits is around $239 per month.
You can use your EBT balance on eligible goods, like produce, dairy, milk, breads, meat, and other healthy products. SNAP permits snacks and beverages with the nutritional facts listed.
However, you cannot use EBT benefits to buy alcohol, tobacco products, lottery tickets, and other non-food items. Benefits do not cover pet food, hot foods ready to eat, and products with a supplement facts label.
How to Qualify for SNAP
Although SNAP is a federal program, state governments establish their own requirements. Typical regulations include the following:
· Being a resident of the state where you apply for food stamps
· Being a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or having another legal immigration status
· Having a Social Security number
· Working or participating in employment training to get a job
· Passing income and resource tests
Financial requirements differ between states. Generally, you must have low or very low earnings. If you are disabled or elderly, you may have a higher income limit.
When you apply for food stamps, you must show documents that prove your income and assets. Your application may ask about cash on hand and property not up for sale, such as your home and vehicles. You may need to provide some of the following:
· Paycheck, tax returns, or other employment and self-employment documents
· Bank statements for your checking, savings, and certificates of deposit accounts
· Benefit award letter for pensions, unemployment insurance, disability, Social Security Income, worker’s compensation, and other government programs
· Court orders for alimony, child support, or lump-sum payments
· Stocks, bonds, interest income, and investment account information
A New Way to Use SNAP Benefits
Does Instacart take EBT payments? Yes, because new laws allow you to use SNAP benefits for online purchases. EBT online shopping is almost the same as other digital purchases. You just enter your EBT number as your payment method, like a debit card. You may need to add your EBT card information before shopping.
Most online retailers can filter goods to “EBT-eligible,” so you can confidently place items in your digital cart. You can buy groceries for pick up or delivery, but you cannot use your benefits for delivery fees and other convenience charges.
It is important to know your EBT balance before checking out online. Your order may have issues if you spend more than your balance. For instance, some grocery items sell by weight instead of quantity.
Most states upgraded their system to online portals. Your state may have an app, or you can use third-party providers like EBT Edge to:
· Check your balance.
· Freeze and replace your card.
· Change your PIN.
· View your transaction history.
You can apply for food stamps online in most states, but some areas still accept applications by mail, fax, or phone. Contact your local social service office about appointments if you want to apply in person.