A large percentage of Florida residents live below the poverty line. Struggling to get by financially leads to difficult choices and having to make sacrifices to meet your basic needs. Unfortunately, many people suffer from food insecurities and suffer the effects of not having enough food to put on the table. SNAP helps to bridge this gap and ensure that millions of Floridians have access to the vital, nutritious foods that they are in dire need of. Some are unsure of how to access these benefits and how to make full use of everything that they have to offer. Surprisingly, the application process for SNAP is relatively simple, provided you can meet the list of requirements.
If you’re interested in applying for SNAP and want to learn more about the ways in which it benefits you, here are more details regarding how the application process works, what your benefits cover, and other general points about Florida’s SNAP system.
Table of Contents
- A Brief History of Snap Benefits
- Financial Qualification for SNAP in Florida
- Citizenship Requirements
- Florida SNAP Work Requirements
- What SNAP Benefits Cover
- What SNAP Benefits Don’t Cover
- Florida SNAP Application Process
- Checking Your Florida EBT/SNAP Balance
A Brief History of Snap Benefits
Florida SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, is designed to help individuals or families struggling with food deficiencies get access to quality foods that would otherwise be out of their financial reach. In 1974, the food stamp program (FSP) was amidst nationwide expansion, allowing qualified residents in every state to have access to the program.
The Food and Agriculture Act of 1977 aimed to narrow the focus of food stamps to the neediest residents. The food stamp program would undergo several facelifts throughout the ensuing decades, many times adjusting the rules required for people to get and maintain their access to food stamps until the program came to exist in its current state.
Financial Qualification for SNAP in Florida
To qualify for SNAP benefits, you must meet several parameters before submitting an application. One of the first requirements you have to complete is ensuring that you aren’t beyond the qualifying annual income. The qualifying income depends on how many people reside with you, making the average value vary for everyone. For instance, as an individual, your annual income cannot exceed $27,000.
By contrast, if you have more than eight people that live with you, the combined household income must be below $93,000 to qualify for benefits.
Your available assets also play a role in your eligibility for Florida SNAP benefits.
As a general rule of thumb is 2022, your combined checking and savings bank account balances cannot exceed $2266 if you are applying for yourself. If you’re applying for your family, your combined balances have a limit of $3,000, and you’re required to have dependants living with you that may include
- Pregnant Women
- A person over the age of 60
- A family member with a disability
Another factor to consider in your application is citizenship status. For instance, to apply for Florida SNAP benefits, you must be a full-time resident of Florida and a citizen of the United States. But, there are some unique situations that allow non-citizens to apply. Non-citizens may be eligible to apply for SNAP benefits if they meet the following criteria:
- Being a refugee
- Victims of human trafficking
- Asylum seekers
- Being a Haitian migrant
- Being a Cuban migrant
Applying for benefits can be a sensitive issue for non-citizens as they may want to avoid having their non-citizenship status verified. For this reason, non-citizens can withdraw their application.
Although these criteria can help with your application, they don’t necessarily guarantee benefits.
Florida SNAP Work Requirements
To qualify for Florida SNAP benefits, able-bodied applicants from the ages of 16-59 must participate in the general work requirements. Some of the requirements can include the following:
- Registering for work
- Accepting offers for employment for suitable work
- Taking part in job-related training
- Participate in 80 hours of work a month
But, there are some situations where SNAP recipients can be exempt from the work requirements. You may qualify for an exemption if you meet the criteria of caring for children under six years of age, providing care for an incapacitated person, are physically or mentally unfit for employment, or be subject to requirements of another program.
What SNAP Benefits Cover
As you get ready to fill out your application, it’s crucial to know what SNAP benefits can buy and what they can’t. Your SNAP benefits can cover various items to help meet your basic needs. For instance, your benefits can cover most of the items on your grocery list, including fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, dairy products, snacks, and more.
Depending on how much assistance you qualify for, you have a solid chance of getting all the items on your grocery list.
Also, SNAP can be helpful for covering lesser-known items such as fruit and vegetable seeds, cold deli items (sandwiches, cold pre-packed meals, deli meats), and some energy drinks (Monster and Red Bull).
What SNAP Benefits Don’t Cover
In the same way that it’s crucial to understand what your benefits can buy, knowing what items SNAP doesn’t cover is just as important.
A common mistake that SNAP recipients make is attempting to buy hot food items with their benefits. While this is an easy mistake, you must remember that purchasing hot foods with your benefits is not allowed. Also, food benefits can’t be used to cover foods that aren’t designed for human consumption, such as pet food.
Other items that food stamps can’t cover are
- Tobacco Products
- Household Cleaners
- And Paper Goods
Florida SNAP Application Process
If you believe you meet the SNAP qualifications for the state of Florida, your next step is to go to the state’s DCF website and begin your application.
You’ll need to set up an online account and enter some of your details, including your social security number and income. The review of the process of Florida SNAP applications typically takes up to 30 days, but this can vary. Once your application is processed, you’ll receive a call for your benefits interview to determine your eligibility.
To learn more about how you can apply for SNAP in Florida, you can also call the DCF hotline for assistance at (850) 300-4323.
Checking Your Florida EBT/SNAP Balance
Checking your Florida EBT/SNAP balance is easy and can be done in several ways.
You can find your balance printed on your receipt after making a purchase with your card.
You can also access your account online, or call the Florida EBT hotline for information about your balance.
Knowing your balance is important in order to ensure that you have enough money to cover your grocery bill.
See also: If you're a struggling single mom or low-income indivudal looking for additional help, check out our guide to Assistance & Grants for Single Moms in Florida.