Food Stamps

Five Things to Know About Massachusetts Food Stamp Program

The state of Massachusetts provides food stamps to low-income families and individuals under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) under the USDA. Food stamps are now usually given on a card that acts like a debit (EBT card). Food stamps can be used to purchase most food items and can be used anywhere that sells food, in most cases. Massachusetts urges people to use food stamps in a responsible way by using money that they save on food to pay bills and purchase other vital non-food necessities. Applying for food stamps is easy. Here are some things to know about the Massachusetts food stamp program.

1. Are You Eligible?

To see if you qualify to receive food stamps, take the eligibility test at http://www.massresources.org/snap-eligibility-check. The eligibility test is confidential and will determine your living situation, income, and expenses to see whether or not you qualify—and if so, how much you will qualify for. The eligibility check does not account for special circumstances, so if you are denied you can still apply or visit an office to see if your circumstances warrant approval. You should always bring proof with you to show why you should be eligible for benefits.

2. What Benefits Can I Receive?

The amount of food stamps that you receive in Massachusetts depends entirely on your household size, income and expenses. You are expected to spend about 30 percent of your own income on food. You may receive up to $668 for a family of four. If you are an individual applying for benefits, the most you can receive in Massachusetts is $200. However, these are maximum totals and may change depending on what your particular living situation is. You can read more about this at http://www.massresources.org/snap-benefits.

3. How Can I Apply?

The application process for Mass. SNAP is primarily online. You can also apply at designated SNAP offices or download an application and apply by mail or fax. You will receive food stamps within 30 days if eligible, but you may qualify for expedited or emergency SNAP benefits in which case you could receive them within seven days or even 24 hours in some cases. Apply online or download a copy of the application at www.massresources.org/snapapply.html&MR=1#howtoapply.

4. Will I Have To Reapply for Food Stamps?

Yes. You are approved to receive food stamps for a certain number of months which will be given to you along with your acceptance letter and EBT card. This is a certification period. Most households in Massachusetts will receive benefits for 12 months. However, if you have a disabled or elderly member of your family, you will receive benefits for 24 months. You will receive a notice when your benefits are about to expire. You need to report changes to your financial situation—without doing so, you may be required to pay back any food stamps that you received that you didn’t qualify for after the change.

5. How Do I Use Food Stamps?

You receive monthly food stamps on a EBT card that you receive in the mail after you are approved. The EBT card can be used at stores just like a debit card. You will only be able to pay for certain things with your EBT card. For example, you cannot buy tobacco, alcohol products, pet food, energy drinks or hot or prepared food items at grocery stores. Read more about eligible food items at www.fns.usda.gov.