Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) / Nutrition Assistance – formerly “Food Stamps”
The SNAP program is a federal program providing low-income individuals and families with benefits to help purchase food. Arizona’s program name is Nutrition Assistance and is administered by the Department of Economic Security (DES). Nutrition Assistance benefits are used like cash and are provided through an ‘electronic benefits transfer’ (EBT) debit card that can be used at most grocery stores.
Answers to the most frequently asked questions.
What are the income limits to qualify for Nutrition Assistance?
In order to qualify for Nutrition Assistance, your household income must be under a certain limit. Your income limit depends on the number of people in your household. There are two types of income limits. Generally, most households must meet both. The first is the gross income limit. Before deductions, your income must be at or below this limit in order to complete the application process.
If your income is below the gross income limit, DES will deduct (subtract) certain expenses from your income to determine whether your remaining income, called net income, is within the limits. After deductions, your income must be at or below the net scale to be eligible for Nutrition Assistance. If you are over the net income limit, you will not qualify for Nutrition Assistance. opens in a new windowTo see if you may be eligible, visit arizonaselfhelp.org.
What deductions can be used to determine my eligibility?
The deductions used to calculate your net income include expenses such as rent/mortgage payments, utility costs, day care expenses and child support payments. People with disabilities and people who are at least 60 years old can also get a deduction for out-of-pocket medical expenses that cost more than $35 per month.
Who is considered a member of my household?
Identifying the members of your household is an important step in determining whether you are eligible for the Nutrition Assistance program. This is because your eligibility is based on the income of your entire household. A ‘household’ can be a person living alone, or a group of people living together who buy and prepare meals together. Generally, people who live together but buy and prepare separate meals are separate households. This means the income of one household will not be included as income of the other household. However, a husband and wife who live together will not be considered separate households even if they do not buy and prepare meals together. Likewise, parents who live with their children under 22 years of age will not be considered separate households regardless of how they handle their food.
Am I required to work?
In order to qualify for Nutrition Assistance, you must work or be in a DES approved training program for at least 80 hours per month. However, you may not have to meet this requirement if you are:
- A half time student enrolled in a training program
- Unable to work because of a disability
- Getting unemployment benefits
- In a drug or alcohol treatment program
- Living where there is high unemployment
- Responsible for the care of someone with a disability or a child under 18
How do I apply for Nutrition Assistance?
You will need to fill out an application, be interviewed and register for work if necessary. You can apply opens in a new windowYou can apply online at healthearizonaplus.gov or fill out an application and submit it in person, by mail, fax or by taking it to your local DES office. Sometimes DES will require that you provide more information or documentation. If you receive a request, you must cooperate by the deadline set by DES or they will close your application. If you are unable to provide the information or documents, let DES know. DES must help you get the information if you are unable to do so yourself.
Does my interview have to be in-person?
Generally, you, a member of your household, or a person you want to represent you must have an interview with a DES eligibility worker. However, you may have the right to a telephone interview or a home visit if you can show it is difficult for you to get to DES because of a hardship such as illness, disability, transportation difficulties or work schedule preventing you from going to a DES office.
Households must have a face-to-face interview with an eligibility worker at initial certification and at least once every 12 months thereafter. Interviews may be conducted at the DES office or other mutually acceptable location, including a household’s residence.
How long does the application process take?
DES must determine your Nutrition Assistance eligibility within 30 calendar days from the date you submitted your application.
What are Emergency Nutrition Assistance benefits?
Emergency Nutrition Assistance must be given to you within 7 days of the date of your application if you meet the requirements to qualify for this service. You may be eligible to receive emergency benefits if:
- Your household’s income is less than $150 per month and your household’s assets are less than $100 (assets include cash that you have on hand and the money in your bank account);
- Your rent and utilities are more than your monthly income before deductions;
- You are a migrant seasonal farm worker and your household’s cash and money in the bank is less than $100.
Do I need to do anything after I've been approved for Nutrition Assistance?
Yes, the Family Assistance Administration (FAA) program requires eligibility reviews, called renewals, for you to continue receiving benefits. Report any changes of contact information (such as telephone or address), to ensure you receive notification regarding your renewal.
Renewal time frames vary. Usually renewals are set every six months, but some are as long as two years from the initial application date.
My information has changed since I applied. Do I need to tell Family Assistance Administration?
You may be required to report changes that may affect your eligibility. Such changes must be reported within 10 days of occurrence. You must report any income changes, changes in the make-up of your household, if you move and if your housing expenses (rent, mortgage, utilities) change. opens in a new windowYou can learn more about what changes to report here. Failure to report changes may cause penalties.
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