(Last updated on 6/23/20)
To apply for food stamps in Montana, you have to meet the eligibility requirements established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – and apply for benefits through the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).
In this post, we will walk you through what you need to know to successfully apply for food assistance in Montana.
We will review the step-by-step application process, which includes the income limit and resources test, 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
- Montana Food Stamps Eligibility Requirements
- How to Apply for Food Stamps in Montana
- 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 states 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 $70.9 billion on the program, helping roughly 44.2 million Americans (14% of the population).
Who Can Apply for Food Stamps
The food stamps program was created to help stop hunger and to improve the nutrition and health of those on a low income.
The program helps people with limited money buy the food they need for good health. This includes individuals who:
- Have a job but have low income
- Are living on a small or fixed income
- Have lost their job
- Are retired or disabled and not able to work
How Much In Food Stamps Will I Receive?
The amount of food stamps benefits you will receive if approved is based on your household size and countable income after all deductions are applied.
Keep in mind that households with an elderly or disabled person are given special consideration.
The table below shows the maximum amount you could receive depending on the number of people in your household.
|People in Household||Maximum Monthly Allotment|
|Each additional person||$ 146|
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.
Montana Food Stamps Program
The food stamps program in Montana is run by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
We are going to describe in detail what you need to successfully apply for food stamps in North Dakota.
Montana Food Stamp Eligibility Requirements
Here is some important information to consider before applying for SNAP in Montana:
- People who live together and buy food and prepare meals together are grouped as a “household” for SNAP.
- Household members that wish to be included must be U.S. citizens or legal aliens.
- Household members that wish to be included must furnish or apply for a social security number.
- Income and resource guidelines listed in this overview must be met.
- Able-bodied household members who are age 16 through 59 must register for work, and may be required to participate in a SNAP Employment and Training Program unless a specified exemption is met.
To apply for food stamps in Montana, you have to meet the eligibility requirements listed below.
To apply for food stamps in Montana, you must be a resident of the state of Montana.
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.
3. Montana Food Stamps Income Limit
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.
|Household Size||Gross monthly income
(130 percent of poverty)
|Net monthly income
(100 percent of poverty; test for SNAP households with elderly and disabled members)
|Each additional member||+$479||+$369|
- 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 Montana
There are four ways in which you can apply for food stamps in Montana:
1. Apply Online
You can apply for food stamps in Montana online at the website – https://apply.mt.gov/ as shown above.
For more help, check out our video for a step-by-step guide on how to apply for Montana food stamps online.
Watch it below:
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 office of Public Assistance. To find a location near you, click here.
Documents You Need to Apply
Here are the documents you will need to apply for food stamps in Montana:
- Proof of Identity
- Proof of State Residency
- Proof of Income
- Proof of Expenses
- Proof of Disability (if Applicable).
- Proof of Alien or Citizenship Status
For proof of citizenship, you will need to present one of the following documents:
- Birth certificate
- Military service records
- US Passport
- Naturalization Certificate
- Permanent resident card/Green card
What Happens After You Apply
After you apply for food stamps in Montana, you must complete an interview with a representative of the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).
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 you are elderly or physically unable to travel to the DPHHS office for the interview, you can apply for a waiver, which is granted on a case by case basis based on hardship.
If your waiver request is granted, the face-to-face interview will be replaced with a phone interview.
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?
You may get emergency food stamp benefits within 7 calendar days if you meet the following criteria:
- Households with less than $150 in monthly gross income and $100 or less in liquid resources; OR
- Migrant or seasonal farm worker households with $100 or less in liquid resources; OR
- Households with a combined monthly gross income and liquid resources less than the household’s monthly rent (or mortgage) and utilities.
How will I Receive Benefits?
If you are approved for Montana food stamps, your monthly benefit will be deposited monthly on an electronic benefits card (EBT Card), also called the Montana Access 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.
Employment and Training Program
If you Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependents (ABAWD) – meaning you are an individual age 18 through 49 who do not live with a child under 18 and who is fit for work – then you must comply with The SNAP Employment and Training (SNAP E&T).
The SNAP E&T program assists participants in discovering, reaching and maintaining their employment goals.
Depending on the availability of funds, SNAP E&T funds may be used to support a variety of education, training, and employment-related supportive services for SNAP E&T participants.
If you reside in Yellowstone, Missoula, or Lewis & Clark counties and are interested in participating in the SNAP E&T program, contact the Montana Public Assistance Helpline at 1-888-706-1535 or your local Office of Public Assistance for a referral.
How to Apply for Food Stamps in Montana Online Summary
If you meet the eligibility for food stamps in Montana, you can start receiving benefits no later than 30 days from the date you submitted your application to the DPHHS.
Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependents must meet the work requirements to receive benefits unless exempted.
We hope this article has been helpful in providing you the information you need to apply for food stamps in Montana.
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 Montana, please let us know in the comments section below.