Written by Maria Jackson
Food stamps are a federal government benefit known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). In Maine, the food stamp program is called the Food Supplement Program. The Food Supplement Program is run through the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and is available to residents of Maine who have little to no income.
People who are unemployed, make very little money, are elderly or disabled, receive public assistance benefits, or who are homeless may all be eligible for food stamps.
If you are having trouble making ends meet and feeding your family, food stamp benefits could help you keep putting food on the table. In order to get these benefits, you will need to apply and meet certain eligibility requirements.
In Maine, the Food Supplement Benefit Program is run through local branches of the Department of Health and Human Services, so you will need to find your local office to apply.
Before you apply, you can use an online pre-screening eligibility tool to help determine your eligibility.
While you do have the option of filling out an application ahead of time, you don't have to do so because you can just call or go to your local office for an interview with an eligibility worker. You will need to do an interview before your application can be completed.
During the interview, the eligibility worker will enter all of your information in the computer and then you will complete your application at the office or it will be mailed to you if you did your interview over the phone.
You will need to be a U.S. citizen or legal immigrant and a Maine resident in order to be eligible for food stamps. You will also need to have a Social Security Number. If you are between the ages of 16-60 and do not meet certain exceptions, you will need to be registered to work and complete any required work training.
Your household can have up to $2,000 worth of assets (such as bank accounts, some vehicles, and property). If you have someone 60 or older in your household, you can have up to $3,000 in assets and still be eligible.
Your household must also meet certain income eligibility requirements. Your household must have the following annual income to qualify:
You will need to provide proof of your income along with the income of all members of your household. You will be able to make certain deductions when calculating your income, such as deductions for shelter, child support and medical expenses.
After you have completed your application and interview, you will receive a letter stating whether you are eligible for food stamp assistance. If you do qualify, you will receive your benefits no later than 30 days from the date your application was submitted.
However, if you have very little to no money and need help sooner than 30 days, you may be able to get food stamp assistance in as little as 7 days.
You will receive your benefits on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. In Maine, these are called the Pine Tree Card. Your allotted monthly food assistance benefits are on this card and you use it like a debit card.
You can use the Pine Tree Card to make eligible food purchases anywhere it's accepted.
You only have a certain amount of food stamp benefits allotted each month, so you want to stretch your dollars as far as possible.
By combining grocery coupons with your food stamp benefits, you can get the most out of your food stamps and save money for other necessities.
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