Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Who can get SNAP benefits? Can I receive SNAP if I do not have children?
All types of people receive SNAP benefits — single adults, families, seniors, and working people. Many people who do not have children are eligible for SNAP benefits.
How is SNAP eligibility determined?
Eligibility is based primarily on household income and certain expenses. Most applicants will not be asked for proof of money in the bank or other resources. Learn more and see if you are eligible with our confidential online calculator.
Expedited benefits mean that you may receive benefits within seven days. We suggest you go in person to your local DTA office to apply.
To be eligible for expedited benefits, you must meet one of these three criteria:
If you believe you are eligible for expedited benefits but don't get them, you have a right to a conference with a DTA supervisor.
Do I need to be working to apply for SNAP?
No. Certain SNAP recipients may have to enroll in a job search program a few months after their benefits begin; however, many SNAP applicants do not.
I own my own home. Does this mean I cannot get SNAP?
No. In fact, the costs associated with owning your home are used as deductions in determining your eligibility. The home you live in is not considered an asset. Learn more about who uses SNAP.
I am not a US Citizen. Can I apply for SNAP?
Yes. Many non-citizens are eligible for SNAP. Receiving SNAP will have no impact on your application for citizenship and/or a green card. If you do not have documented immigration status, you will not be able to apply for yourself, but you may be able to apply for other eligible household members.
Children born in the US may receive benefits even if their parents do not have documentation.
I am homeless. Can I apply for SNAP?
Yes. A permanent address is not required to apply for SNAP. You can get benefits whether you live on the street, are staying in a shelter, or are living with family or friends on a temporary basis. Homeless individuals and families who do not have regular shelter expenses can claim an automatic deduction from their income.
Do I have to go into the office to apply?
No. You can begin an application over the phone by calling Project Bread's toll-free FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333. You may also email or fax your application, or apply online. Your Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) caseworker will call you to schedule an interview over the phone. Learn more about how to apply for SNAP.
I live with other people. Do I have to put their names on my application?
Yes. If you buy and prepare food with the people you live with, you all apply together. If you do not, you apply separately, but you would still need to put their names on your application. Some people must always apply together, including spouses and children under 22 living with a parent or step-parent.
How do I find out the status of my SNAP application?
You should first try to contact your DTA caseworker. You can also call DTA Recipient Services at 1-800-445-6604, or you can access information on your application through DTA’s My Accounts webpage: www.mass.gov/vg/selfservice.
How long will it be until I get my SNAP benefits?
It can take up to 30 days to receive benefits. Some households may be eligible for expedited/emergency SNAP, which are available in seven calendar days.
I received an EBT card in the mail but the balance is $0. What does this mean?
When you apply for SNAP you may be given an EBT card right away, but until your application is processed, you will not have any benefits on your card.
It is also possible you may be categorically eligible for $0, meaning when your income and expense information was calculated the amount of SNAP benefits you qualified for was $0. However, you are still considered a SNAP recipient and can receive any associated benefits, such as utility discounts and free school meals for your children.
Does receiving SNAP affect my taxes?
No. SNAP benefits are not considered income.
I have seen people purchase non-food items with an EBT card. I thought SNAP was only for food?
Yes. SNAP benefits are only for food. However, some people have an EBT card for their TAFDC (cash assistance) benefits. You can use TAFDC benefits to purchase food and non-food items. For information on TAFDC eligibility, contact your local DTA office.
I still have some questions. Where can I get help?
For more information contact Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333.
GettingSNAP.org is a resource created by Project Bread - The Walk for Hunger, Inc., and has been funded in part with federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance. The contents of this website do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of USDA, nor does mention of tradenames, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.
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