Food Stamps or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
SNAP is a program that provides a monthly amount to assist with purchasing food. The benefit is deposited onto an EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card, which looks and works like a debit card. The EBT card can be used at food stores to purchase food items. The SNAP program is administered by the Nevada Department of Welfare and Social Services (DWSS).
SNAP eligibility involves four elements: (1) low income and few assets, (2) citizenship or qualified alien status, (3) a Social Security Card, and (4) working or looking for work.
There is no penalty for applying for benefits and being found ineligible, so long as you are truthful in your application. You can visit the DWSS pre-screening eligibility test to see if you qualify.
To receive SNAP benefits, you must be a citizen of the United States or a Qualified Alien. Generally, a qualified alien is someone here in the United States legally with appropriate documentation. If some members of your household are not citizens or qualified aliens, you may still be eligible for SNAP benefits, but a lower amount. Any non-qualified alien is excluded from your household in determining SNAP benefits.
A related requirement is that you must provide a valid Social Security number for all household members that will receive SNAP benefits.
All adult household members must be working or looking for work. If you are disabled or going to school, you may be able to get out of this work requirement.
Single people may apply for SNAP benefits, as long as they are eligible under the other eligibility requirements listed here. Non-disabled adults, age 18 to 59, must work at least 20 hours per week or DWSS may limit SNAP benefits to 3 months in any three year period.
DWSS has complicated rules regarding income eligibility. What follows is a simplified version of these rules. You must be a low income household to qualify for SNAP benefits. In general, DWSS defines a household as a single person or group of people who purchase and prepare food together.
SNAP benefits are for people of limited means who need help paying for food. Some households are eligible as Categorically Eligible simply because someone in the household receives TANF benefits, county general assistance, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). For everyone else, income limits apply. The income limits are below (as of November, 2010).
SNAP Income Test/Allotments
|Household Size||Maximum Gross|
130% of Poverty
100% of Poverty
|Each Additional Person||+406||+312||+150|
Maximum Gross applies to every household that does not have any Categorically Eligible, 60 or older, or disabled household member. Maximum Gross income is your income before taxes and SNAP deductions are taken out. If the Maximum Gross income test applies to you and your income exceeds the amount listed above according to household size, you are not eligible for SNAP benefits. If the Maximum Gross income test does not disqualify your household, then DWSS will determine if you are eligible under the Maximum Net income test.
The Maximum Net income test starts with your Maximum Gross income. Taxes and certain expenses are then deducted from your income to determine eligibility. The following are deducted from your income, when determining eligibility for SNAP:
- $144 from your gross monthly income (a standard deduction) up to $197 depending upon the household size.
- If working, 20 percent of your gross monthly earned income.
- Deduction for actual child care or care for an incapacitated adult expenses so you can work or attend school or training.
- Up to $446 in shelter costs. This includes rent or mortgage payments, up to $274 for utilities, and in some cases $11 for a phone.
- Child support payments which are court ordered (legally obligated) and actually paid.
- Individuals age 60 or older or those receiving Supplemental Security or Social Security disability income may deduct un-reimbursed medical expenses of more than $35 a month. They also may be given a higher shelter deduction.
After these deductions are made, you are left with the Maximum Net income for your household. You can get a rough estimate of your Maximum Net income by deducting the preceding amounts from your household’s income. If this amount is equal to or less than the Maximum Net income listed for your household size, you should be eligible for SNAP benefits.
Along with low income, you must also have few assets. Assets do not include your home, car, clothing, jewelry, or other common and necessary household items. Cash, land, a second car (worth over $4,650), stocks, bonds are all assets. You cannot have more than $2,000 in assets, or $3,000 if a household member is 60 or older or disabled.
SNAP Benefits Amount
Your SNAP benefits are based on the Maximum Allotment for your family size. Using the chart above, a family of 3 will have $536 as the maximum allotment. You then take your maximum allotment and subtract 30% of your Maximum Net income from this amount. So, if your Maximum Net income is $1,000, 30% would be $333. $536 minus $333 would be $203 or your monthly SNAP benefit.
You must submit your application for SNAP benefits at a local welfare office. You can download forms from the DWSS website, or DWSS can mail these forms to you. Once you complete the application, it may be mailed, dropped off or faxed to the local Welfare Office and may be used to apply for any and all programs listed on the form. If you reside on a Nevada Indian Reservation or Colony you may also check with the Tribal Social Service Office or Health Clinics for application information.
You must disclose personal information to DWSS because they have the right to determine whether you are eligible for SNAP benefits. You must submit your application to a local DWSS Welfare Office. If you cannot get to a local Welfare Office, you have the right to have an adult who knows your situation apply for you.
Once your application has been received, DWSS will schedule an interview to meet with you and go over your documentation. Elderly or disabled individuals are not required to have an in person interview and their interviews are conducted on the phone. You should bring the following items with you to your interview:
- A Nevada drivers license or other Identification (ID) (a picture ID is not required)
- A Social Security card or proof you have applied for one
- Proof of income, such as pay stubs or a statement from your employer, award letter from Social Security etc.
- Proof of child care expenses or expenses related to care for a disabled household member
- Proof of child support payments made by you or another household member to someone outside of your household (court order and receipts)
- Bank statements and other proof of assets such as vehicle ownership
- Proof of rent and utilities, such as rent receipt, utility bills
- Proof of un-reimbursed medical expenses for elderly or disabled household members
If you return your application in person, your application will be date stamped at the office and an interview time will be scheduled. If you meet certain expedited service conditions you may be seen the same or next work day.
Once all your documents have been turned in, you should receive a notice within seven (7) days telling you whether you are eligible for SNAP benefits. If you do not hear from the DWSS office during that time, contact them to find out why. It may be that they need additional documentation. If you have to wait too long before being told whether you are eligible, you may want to request a fair hearing.
DWSS will issue a decision on your SNAP benefits within 30 days after you turn in your application. If you are eligible for expedited service, you will be authorized SNAP benefits within a few days, but no later than seven (7) days from application.
Denials or Termination of Benefits
Any denial of an application for SNAP benefits must be given to you in writing. You also have the right to written notice before any decrease in the amount of SNAP benefits your household receives. Any termination of your SNAP benefits must be sent to you in writing, in advance. You have the right to look at your case file, and to see a copy of the SNAP rules. If you disagree with any action taken on your SNAP case, you have the right to request a fair hearing to have a Hearing Officer determine whether the action was appropriate under the SNAP rules.
Any notice you receive should advise you of how to request a fair hearing, and any deadline for requesting a hearing. You must request a hearing within 90 days of the date on your denial notice. It is very important that you do not miss the deadline, as that may disqualify you from receiving a fair hearing. In some cases, your benefits can continue unchanged while you are going through the fair hearing process.
You can request a fair hearing in writing, in person, or over the phone. However, it is always best to put things into writing and try to get proof that they have been received, either by having a copy stamped “received” at the DWSS office, or by sending your request by certified mail.
You can ask a friend or relative or anyone else to help you prepare for the hearing and go to the hearing with you. Nevada Legal Services may be able to represent you at your fair hearing.
If the hearing officer decides DWSS took the correct action, you will have to repay the value of any SNAP benefits you did not have a right to get.
If the hearing officer decides DWSS took the incorrect action, you will continue to get or begin to get the correct amount of SNAP benefits. If the action was incorrect, and you did not get continued benefits, the amount of any SNAP benefits you had a right to get will be given to you.
Last Review and Update: Apr 24, 2013