DSS Encourages Those Impacted To Apply for Regular SNAP Benefits
BATON ROUGE (May 1, 2010) - The Louisiana Department of Social Services (DSS) today reminded individuals that have been financially impacted by the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that they could be eligible for the regular Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.
DSS will send 10 strike teams on Monday into coastal parishes affected by the spill, such as Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and Jefferson parishes, to assist individuals in applying who might be eligible for the regular SNAP program. Exact locations will be determined in coordination with federal, state and local partners.
Individuals can also apply for regular SNAP benefits by downloading an application at www.dss.louisiana.gov and mail the application back to their local DSS office.
"We encourage those families that have been directly impacted by this tragedy through a loss of income to apply for regular SNAP benefits to help supplement their food needs," said DSS Secretary Kristy Nichols. "DSS strike teams will begin visiting the area on Monday to help those individuals through the application process as quickly as possible."
Households can use regular SNAP benefits to purchase foods for the household to eat, such as breads and cereals; fruits and vegetables; meats, fish and poultry; and dairy products. Recipients can also purchase seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat. In some areas, restaurants can be authorized to accept regular SNAP benefits from qualified homeless, elderly, or disabled people in exchange for low-cost meals.
In order to be eligible for the regular SNAP program, you must meet both resource and income eligibility requirements. To be eligible, most Louisiana households must have less than $2,000 in resources, such as in a bank account. If at least one household member is age 60 or older or includes a disabled member, that amount is increased to $3,000.
In addition, households must meet both the gross and net income tests. For example, a family of four cannot exceed a gross income of $2,389 and a net income of $1,838. A household only has to meet the net income test if the household includes a person who is 60 years old or older or a person who is receiving certain types of disability payments.
Benefit amounts are established by the USDA-Food and Nutrition Service and depend on both the number of persons in the household and the monthly income amount remaining after all allowable deductions have been subtracted. For example, the maximum monthly amount for a family of four is $668.
When applying, households need to provide the following information, if applicable, to prove eligibility:
"Those impacted have suffered a great deal of stress over the past 2 weeks, and wondering if they will be able to put food on the table for their families should not add to that stress," Nichols said. "We will expedite these cases as fast as legally possible in order to get the benefits to those who need it most."
Once an application is received, DSS has a maximum of 30 days to provide benefits, even though clients usually receive confirmation of eligibility in less than that time period. Regular SNAP applications meeting federal criteria for expedited services will be processed within four days of the application date.