How to Apply for Food Stamps in New Jersey
Our goal is to help residents in the Garden State that need nutrition assistance to apply for food stamps in New Jersey. In this post, we will walk you through the step by step process for applying for food assistance. You will learn about the food stamps eligibility requirements, including income, asset, and residency requirements.
This post will cover:
Overview of the Food Stamps Program
How Much You Could Receive In Food Stamps
New Jersey Food Stamps Eligibility Requirements
How to Apply for Food Stamps in New Jersey
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 or 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.
New Jersey Food Stamps Program
The food stamps program in New Jersey is run by the Department of Human Services (DHS).
We are going to describe in detail what you need to successfully apply for food stamps in New Jersey.
New Jersey Food Stamp Eligibility Requirements
To apply for food stamps in New Jersey, 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 New Jersey, you must be a resident of the state of New Jersey.
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.
You will be required to provide the following information when applying for food stamps in New Jersey:
List of everyone in your household, even if you are not applying for them. Keep in mind that you don’t have to answer Citizenship Information and Social Security Number for members not asking for benefits.
However, to receive benefits, you MUST provide your Social Security Number or apply for one.
The Department uses the Social Security number to check to make sure you are who you say you are. This is done by checking other computer and government records to make sure you qualify.
Please note that failure to provide a social security number will result in benefit denial for that household member.
How to Apply for Food Stamps In New Jersey
There are four ways in which you can apply for food stamps in New Jersey:
1. Apply Online
You can apply for food stamps in New Jersey online at the DHS 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 Board of Social Services. 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 New Jersey:
- 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 New Jersey, 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 you are elderly or physically unable to travel to the DHS 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 food stamps within 7 days of your application date if any of the following are true:
- Your household’s monthly income before taxes is $150 or less; or
- You are a migrant or seasonal farm worker; or
- Your household’s monthly rent/mortgage and utilities are more than your household’s income before taxes.
How will I Receive Benefits?
If you are approved for New Jersey 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.
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.
What If My Application Is Denied?
If you apply for food stamps in New Jersey and your application is denied, there are other resources that may be available to you to meet your nutrition needs. This includes endhungernj.org.
These are New Jersey’s Emergency Food Providers (EFPs), network food pantries and soup kitchens offering additional food to Individuals and families who are food insecure.
If you meet the eligibility for food stamps in New Jersey, 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 New Jersey.
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 New Jersey, please let us know in the comments section below.