In Minnesota, the food stamps program is administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS). To apply for food stamps, you have to meet the eligibility requirements established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In this post, we will walk you through what you need to know to successfully apply for food assistance. We will review the step-by-step application process, which includes income and resources limits, residency requirements, how much you will receive in food stamps if approved for benefits.
This post will cover:
Overview of the Food Stamps Program
How Much You Could Receive In Food Stamps
Minnesota Food Stamps Eligibility Requirements
How to Apply for Food Stamps in Minnesota
What Happens After You Apply
About Food Stamps Program
The SNAP Benefits program, also known as food stamps offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible individuals and families.
The program is aimed at those who work for low wages, have low income or no income. You may not be denied food stamps benefits solely because you were denied from other state of federal programs.
The program is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The states are responsible for distributing benefits at the local level.
The food stamps program is the largest economic assistance program offered by the federal government to fight hunger and provide nutrition assistance.
In 2016, the government spent $70.9 billion on the program, helping roughly 44.2 million Americans (14% of the population).
Who Can Apply for Food Stamps
The food stamps program was created to help stop hunger and to improve nutrition and health of those on low income.
The program helps people with limited money buy the food they need for good health. This includes individuals who:
- Have a job but have low income
- Are living on a small or fixed income
- Have lost their job
- Are retired or disabled and not able to work
How Much In Food Stamps Will I Receive?
The amount of food stamps benefits you will receive if approved is based on your household size and countable income after all deductions are applied.
Keep in mind that households with an elderly or disabled person are given special consideration.
The table below shows the maximum amount you could receive depending on the number of people in your household.
What Can I Buy with Food Stamps?
There are strict requirements about what you can and cannot purchase with food stamps.
Generally, food stamps benefits may only be used to purchase food for human consumption and seeds/plants to grow food at home.
Food Stamp benefits cannot be used for: household items, grooming products, tobacco, alcohol products, pet food, etc. Here are the allowed food items:
You can use your benefits to buy foods such as:
- Breads and cereals.
- Fruits and vegetables.
- Meats, fish, and poultry.
- Dairy products.
- Seeds and plants to grow food for your family to eat.
You cannot use your benefits to buy:
- Non Food items (pet foods, paper products, soaps,
- household supplies, grooming items, toothpaste, cosmetics, etc.).
- Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco.
- Food that will be eaten in the store.
- Hot foods (food cooked and served hot at the store).
- Vitamins and medicines.
Minnesota Food Stamps Program
The food stamps program in Minnesota is run by the Department of Human Services (DHS). The program is intended to help eligible individuals and families get the food they need for sound nutrition and well-balanced meals.
You may be eligible for food stamps in Minnesota if you meet the following guidelines:
- Your monthly income is within the gross and net income limits;
- You register for work if you are asked to
- You provide a Social Security number for each person
in your home applying for benefits;
- You are a citizen of the United States or an eligible
- You do not take part in the Tribal Food Distribution
Program in the same month.
We are going to describe in detail what you need to successfully apply for food stamps in Minnesota.
Minnesota Food Stamp Eligibility Requirements
To apply for food stamps in Minnesota, you have to meet the eligibility requirements listed below.
Of all the requirements, the income limit is the biggest factor that determines whether you are approved for benefits.
Make sure you review the income limit to be sure you are eligible before applying. If you determine that you are not eligible, there may be other nutrition assistance program you may be eligible for.
To apply for food stamps in Minnesota, you must be a resident of the state of Minnesota.
Only United States Citizens and certain categories of lawfully admitted non-citizens can apply for food stamps. See our detailed article on the topic here.
If your income (based on your family size) is less than or equal to the amounts in the charts below, you may be eligible for SNAP benefits.
Gross income means a household’s total, non-excluded income, before any deductions have been made such as taxes or other withholdings.
Net income means gross income minus allowable deductions.
- If your household’s gross income is below these amounts, it does not ensure that you will be eligible for a benefit.
- A SNAP budget must be calculated for your household in order to determine eligibility and benefit amount.
- The only way to determine if your household is eligible for SNAP benefits is to apply.
For a detailed post on how to calculate your gross and net income, and documents you will be required to resent to support your food stamps application, click here.
What Counts As Income?
Cash income from all sources, including earned income (before payroll taxes are deducted) and unearned income, such as cash assistance, Social Security, unemployment insurance, and child support are all counted towards your income for food stamps purposes.
Households with an elderly or disabled person are given special consideration, including higher asset limit, are exempted from the gross income test, and are allowed and more excess shelter/utility cost deduction, and medical expenses over $35 per month.
Households may have $2,250 in countable resources (such as cash or money in a bank account) or $3,500 in countable resources if at least one member of the household is age 60 or older, or is disabled.
What Counts as Resources?
Resources that could be available to the household to purchase food, such as amounts in bank accounts.
Items that are not accessible, such as the household’s home, personal property, and retirement savings, do not count. Most automobiles do not count.
How to Apply for Food Stamps In Minnesota
There are four ways in which you can apply for food stamps in Minnesota:
1. Apply Online
You can apply for food stamps in Minnesota online at the ApplyMN.dhs.mn.gov. website as shown above.
2. Apply Over the Phone
3. Print Out the Application and Mail/Fax it In.
4. Apply in Person
You can also apply in person at a local county Office. To find a location near you, click here.
If you are age 60 and older and are applying for the Food Stamps only, use the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Application for Seniors” (DHS-5223F).
Documents You Need to Apply
- Identification showing your name and address
- A Social Security number for all household members applying for benefits; if you or a member of your household has not applied for a Social Security number, you must apply at the same time you apply for benefits
- Proof of your monthly earnings, such as recent pay stubs
- Proof of your monthly unearned income, such as benefit statements
- Proof of housing costs
- Proof of immigration status for all household members applying for benefits
- Medical bills of household members who are 60 years or older or have disabilities if these bills are not paid by insurance, Medical Assistance or Medicare
What Happens After You Apply
After you apply for food stamps in Minnesota, you must complete an interview with a representative of the Department of Human Services (DHS).
You will have to attend a face-to-face interview. During the interview, and you will be required to provide verification of your income and expenses.
If your application is approved, you will start receiving benefits no later than 30 days from the date you submit your application.
Do You Need Benefits Sooner?
With identification, you may get emergency food stamp benefits within 7 calendar days if you meet one of the following criteria:
- you have less than $150 in monthly gross income and no more than $100 in liquid resources;
- you have shelter costs that are higher than your gross income and liquid resources; or
- you are a migrant or seasonal farm worker who is destitute.
How will I Receive Benefits?
If you are approved for Minnesota food stamps, your monthly benefit will be deposited monthly on an electronic benefits card (EBT Card).
It is a plastic debit card with your name and card number on it as shown above.
Your EBT Card can be used to buy groceries at stores that accept food stamps.
How Long Can I Be on Food Stamps?
There are no limits to how long you can get food stamps if you have children/dependents living in your household or are under age 18 or over age 50.
However, If you are a single, able-bodied adult without dependents in your home, you can only receive food stamps for 3 months in a 36-month period.
Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP)
As mentioned above, there is no time limit on how long you can receive food stamps.
When the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) runs out, your county can help you continue to get food stamps.
Your caseworker may contact you for more information. If you do not want to keep getting food stamps, tell your caseworker.
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If you meet the eligibility for food stamps in Minnesota, you can start receiving benefits no later than 30 days from the date you submitted your application to the Department of Human Services.
We hope this article has been helpful in providing you the information you need to apply for food stamps in Minnesota.
If you have any specific questions about the application process that have not been addressed in this post or if you would like to share your experience applying for food stamps in Minnesota, please let us know in the comments section below.