Ask anyone of your friends or families who have been receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits and you will understand how much help it can be for those trying to cut down on their food expenses.
As food cost continues to rise, SNAP has indeed become an essential source of support for low income families and individuals nationwide, including those in Oklahoma. There is absolutely no need to feel ashamed if you find yourself struggling to keep a balanced diet for your family given the current rate of inflation.
This guide will provide you with a comprehensive introduction to SNAP to ensure that you get the financial assistance you need to overcome any potential food crisis at your household. Just keep reading to learn the eligibility requirements and how to claim these benefits in Oklahoma.
What is SNAP benefit?
SNAP, also known as food stamps, is a federal-funded program that supports low income families and individuals in purchasing nutritious food.
SNAP benefits aim to help recipients cover 70% of their food expenses. Thus, the monthly benefit you are entitled to varies based on your family's net monthly income and the maximum monthly benefit (or allotment) set for your household size. Each year, the government reviews and adjusts the benefit amount to reflect inflation and other relevant factors.
Once you are found eligible, your SNAP benefits will be deposited directly into an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card each month. The EBT card works the same way as a debit card, which you can use to buy basic good such as fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy products in authorized groceries or Farmers' Markets in Oklahoma.
Who are Eligible for the Benefits?
SNAP benefits have three main eligibility requirements: citizenship, work requirements and income limits. If you would like to apply for SNAP benefits in Oklahoma, you must be a U.S. citizen or legal alien that is currently living in Oklahoma, each member in your household must have a Social Security Number.
In addition, SNAP requires most households to meet both the gross and net income limits, except for disabled and elderly applicants. Gross income refers to a family's total income before any deduction are made. Net income is calculated by subtracting allowable deductions from the gross income.
Both income limits increase as the number of family member increases. For example, in the current fiscal year (from Oct. 1, 2023, to Sep. 30, 2024), the gross income limit for a household of two is $2,137, and the net income limit is $1,644. For a household of four, the two limits increase to $ 3,250 and $2,500 respectively.
Moreover, the following work requirements must be met for applicants between the ages of 16 to 59 who are able to work:
- Registering for work;
- Not voluntarily quitting a job or reducing hours;
- Taking a job if offered; and
- Participating in employment and training programs, if assigned by the state.
If all members of your household are receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or other applicable assistance programs, your household may be deemed “categorically eligible” for SNAP.
For families that with elderly and disabled members, there is a set of specific rules, including income limits, allowable deductions and work requirements. You may consult your local office or refer to the website of U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service.
What's the Application Process?
After submitting your application, you can expect the following steps:
- Application Review: Your state agency or local SNAP office will process your application and review relevant supporting documents within 30 days upon receiving your application.
- Interview: During the 30 days, you may be contacted to complete an eligibility interview and provide proof of the information in your application.
- Decision: After the interview, you can expect a notice about your eligibility. If your application is approved, you may find your certification period (how long you can receive SNAP benefits) in the notice. If denied, you may consider requesting a fair hearing to review your case within 90 days.
Your SNAP benefits do not renew automatically at the end of the certification period. Typically, you will receive a notice stating a recertification process to reassess your eligibility one month before the current certification period ends. For most families, the certification period is six months.
The recertification process involves submitting updated information about your household income, certain expenses, family members and other relevant information. You may choose to recertify online at okdhslive.org, by phone or mail, or by submitting documents in person. In some cases, interviews are required to complete the recertification process. Failure to attend the interview may result in a denial of SNAP benefits.
Latest changes to SNAP
SNAP updated its work requirements last June, which requires able bodied adults without dependents to work or participate in a work program for a minimum of 20 hours each week if they would like to receive the benefit for more than 3 months in a 36-month period.
In Oklahoma, SNAP offers OK SNAP Works in Oklahoma, McIntosh, and Tulsa Counties, an employment and training program to provide SNAP recipients with employment related services. If you are a SNAP participant who are looking for a job, and do not receive TANF assistance, you may qualify for free job training.
Some special groups are exempted from such requirements, including children, elderly, veterans, homeless individuals, pregnant women and other specific groups.
Participants may qualify for additional assistance to assist while they gain these skills:
- Child care services
- Transportation assistance
- Books and supplies related to the training courses
- Work/Interview/Training clothing
FREE Smartphone for SNAP recipients
If you qualify for SNAP benefits, you will be automatically eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and Lifeline Program, two assistance programs that enable low income families to access affordable internet and mobile phone services.
The ACP provides a monthly discount on broadband service up to $30 (up to $75 if you live on qualifying tribal lands), while Lifeline offers a discount monthly up to $9.25 ($34.25 for residents on qualifying tribal lands).
And that's not all! If you apply the ACP or Lifeline directly through service providers such as EASY Wireless, you will be entitled to an exciting EASY Wireless Unlimited Plan. The plan includes not only a FREE smartphone, but also the below benefits:
- FREE Unlimited Data
- FREE Unlimited Talk
- FREE Unlimited Text
- FREE SIM Card Kit and Activation
- Choose to Keep Your Number or Get a New One
To get started with EASY Wireless, click the below link to apply online:
Start Saving Today!
Or you can come to one of the EASY Wireless's retail stores, where our customer service agent will help you apply for the benefits.
Visit us for all your cell phone and wireless service needs today!