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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP
October 1, 2008 - September 30, 2009
  1. What is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program(SNAP)?
  2. How does SNAP work?
  3. If I get SNAP, how much money will I get each month on my card?
  4. Who can get help from SNAP?
  5. Does if matter how long I have lived in Montana to get SNAP?
  6. Are there any resource limits for the SNAP program?
  7. What are resources?
  8. What about my vehicle (car or truck)? Is that counted as a resource?
  9. I am a self-employed farmer. Will my farm count as a resource for SNAP?
  10. How do I get an application?
  11. What is the application like?
  12. Do I have to go in person to apply?
  13. What else do I have to do to apply?
  14. How soon will I be able to get on the program?
  15. What do I have to do to stay on the program?
  16. Is there a limit to how long I can get SNAP?
  17. Do I have to be a U.S. Citizen to get SNAP?
  18. Can undocumented immigrants get SNAP?
  19. I am an immigrant. If I get SNAP, will I be a public charge?
  20. Will a lien be placed upon my home if I get SNAP?

1. What is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program(SNAP)?

It is a program that helps people with lower incomes pay for nutritious food, which helps kids to grow up strong and helps adults to stay healthy. SNAP does not pay for all the food that a person or a family needs each month, just some of it. 


SNAP is administered by the Montana Department of Health and Human Services.

2. How does SNAP work?
Once you get SNAP, you will get a plastic card that looks like a credit or debit card. It is called your EBT card (Electronic Benefit Transfer); in Montana it is called the Montana Access Card. Every month, the card will be filled up with the money for you to buy food at places that accept SNAP, such as grocery stores and in some small towns, farmers' markets. When you get to the checkout line, you swipe your card and then enter a code number that you have picked (called a PIN or Personal Identification Number).  The PIN helps keep your benefits safe if you lose your card.  The cost of your food will be subtracted from the amount of money on your card. You can use your card to buy groceries or plants and seeds to grow food.  You cannot use your card to buy other things like clothes, alcohol, or cigarettes.

3. If I get SNAP, how much money will I get each month on my card?
It depends on your income, expenses and the number of people who live with you. If you have more people in your family, you will get more money to buy food.

4. Who can get help from SNAP?
Lots of people, including single adults, families and seniors. For most people, it depends how much money you make (your income) and how much you own (your resources). If you are an adult who is able to work, you will also have to work or look for work or participate in a SNAP Employment and Training Program unless a specified exemption is met to receive SNAP.

5. Does if matter how long I have lived in Montana to get SNAP?
No. This doesn’t matter. You can get SNAP even if you just came to Montana. You can also get SNAP even if you don’t plan to stay in Montana for a long time.

6. Are there any resource limits for the SNAP program?
No. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs do not look at resources, unless you have violated the SNAP program in the past.

7. What are resources?
Resources are money or other things of value that you or your family own. The county will add some of your assets together to see if they are lower than the limit. You do not have to count the house you live in or any licensed vehicles as resources. Some resources that are counted are cash, money in a checking or savings account, property that you do not live on and stocks and bonds.

8. What about my vehicle (car or truck)? Is that counted as a resource?
No. All licensed vehicles are not counted as resources for SNAP.  This includes campers, trailers, etc.

9. I am a self-employed farmer. Will my farm count as a resource for SNAP?
If your farm produces income for you or your family, it is not counted as a resource. Farming equipment used to produce income is also not counted.

10. How do I get an application?
The application is called the Food Stamp Program Application.  You may also apply for multiple programs at the same time using the Application for Public Assistance which includes SNAP, Medicaid, and TANF.  You can get one at your local county Office of Public Assistance (OPA) or you can also get an application on this website by clicking here.

11. What is the application like?
The application is about 12 pages long, including directions.  It will ask you about everyone who lives with you, how much money they make, and what they own (resources). If you want, you can use the Application for Public Assistance to apply for cash assistance (TANF), Medicaid, and SNAP all at the same time. Fill it out and then bring it, mail it, or fax it to any county Office of Public Assistance to apply. You can also use the Quick Program Lookup on this website to find organizations by county that will help you fill out the application.

12. Do I have to go in person to apply?
After you turn in your application, you will have to do an interview with a county worker.  If you cannot get to an interview, you can send a friend or relative to apply for you, or you can call and ask to be interviewed over the phone.

13. What else do I have to do to apply?
To finish your application, you will have to turn in proof of your income (such as check stubs), your resources and your expenses. When you turn in your application, you will learn what else you need to turn in.  It is best however to bring all of these things to your interview.

14. How soon will I be able to get on the program?
It depends. For some eligible households, you can get help within 7 days. For most people, you will find out in within a month from the day you turn in your application.  If you do not have time to fill out the whole application right away, just turning in the completed first page counts as your date of application.  If you turn in the rest within 30 days and qualify, your SNAP benefits will be pro-rated back to your first date of application.

15. What do I have to do to stay on the program?
If you have money from work (earned income), you have to fill out a household report form that comes in the mail every six months.  You have to mail it back with proof of your income (like check stubs).  Once a year you have to re-certify for SNAP.  To re-certify, you have to turn in proof of your income and have an interview with a case worker, either in person or over the phone.

If you are a senior (60+) or disabled and do not have any money from work (no earned income), you only have to re-certify once every 2 years.  However, if the number of people living with you changes or your income changes, you have to call the county office and tell them within 10 days.

If you are homeless, you have to re-certify every six months.

16. Is there a limit to how long I can get SNAP?
No.

17. Do I have to be a U.S. Citizen to get SNAP?
No. You do not have to be a citizen. Some legal immigrants can also get help if they have a Social Security Number (or have applied for one).  But you still need to be a legal immigrant, have a Social Security Number, and have income and resources below the limits to get help.

18. Can undocumented immigrants get SNAP?
Undocumented immigrants cannot get SNAP. But if some people in your family can get SNAP, but others cannot, you can apply just for those people who qualify. If you are undocumented, but your children were born in the U.S., you can get SNAP for your children.  You do not have to tell the worker about the immigration status of people that you are not applying for, but you have to tell how many people live with you and how much money they make.

19. I am an immigrant. If I get SNAP, will I be a public charge?
No. Getting SNAP does not mean you are a public charge. You can still become U.S. Citizen if you get SNAP. It will not affect this.

20. Will a lien be placed upon my home if I get SNAP?
No.