Oklahomans, guess what's coming your way? Starting from Oct 1, get ready for a long-awaited boost in your SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits!
Yes, your eyes are not playing tricks! Starting next month, the government-funded program will be putting more money in your pockets to help with your grocery expenses. The rise is based on the Consumer Price Index from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for June 2022, and on average, your SNAP benefits are about to increase by around 3%.
If you are currently a SNAP recipient, you DON'T need to lift a finger. The changes will occur automatically. If you haven't enrolled in the program yet, you've come to the right place! In this blog, we'll walk you through the latest changes, the application process and additional benefits available to reduce your financial burdens.
Now, sit back and scroll down to learn more about Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Introduction to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP, or food stamps, is a federal program that provides financial support to low income households to buy nutritious food and seeds or plants to grow food.
Eligible low income individuals and families receive benefits directly through the SNAP/ Electronic benefits transfer system (EBT) each month. The EBT card works the same way as your debit card. After receiving payments, you can use the EBT card at most grocery stores and farmers markets.
Who is Eligible for SNAP?
Under federal rules, eligibility criteria for SNAP include income limits, household assets and immigration status. In addition, each state has its own set of requirements such as income standards, household size and citizenship status. For Oklahoma, the following basic requirements will be applied:
- United States citizen citizen or legal alien.
- Work requirements (unemployed adults, ages 18 TO 50).
- Meet income standard(s) shown on Appendix C-3.
- Social Security Numbers for all household members included in food benefit household.
Some of the requirements like income limits are updated annually. You can find the latest information, benefit amount as well as deductions allowed in SNAP from U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Services. There are also special rules for households with elderly or disabled household members.
Changes to Able-bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD)
The Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 (FRA), signed into law in June, introduces some changes to the policy regarding able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD) under SNAP.
As a general rule, individuals categorised as ABAWD are only eligible for SNAP benefits for a limited duration and must meet specific work requirements. The FRA brings two changes to this policy: an increase in the upper age limit for ABAWD exemption and additional exemptions.
Currently, individuals under the age of 18 or over 50 (including 50) are exempt from ABAWD work requirements and time limits. However, starting from Sep 1, 2023, childless workers under 50 are required to work a minimum of 20 hours per week, or participating in training program and other work programs to qualify for SNAP. The age limit will be raised to 52 from Oct 1, 2023 to Sep 30, 2024, and it will further expand to 54 starting from Oct 1, 2024.
Moreover, three new groups, including homeless individuals, veterans and those who have aged out of foster care, are exempt from ABAWD requirements. All these changes are temporary and will be in effect until Oct 1, 2030.
How to Apply for SNAP in Oklahoma?
The application process is pretty straightforward. You can apply online at www.OKDHSLIVE.ORG by answering application questions about yourself and your household or submit a completed form 08MP001E (Request for Benefits) to Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Visit the website to find the nearest local office or information for you to contact them.
In most cases, it takes around 30 days to process and determine your eligibility status. During the period, you will need to complete an eligibility interview and give proof of the information you provided. Once you are approved, you will receive your EBT card, which is accepted at authorised retailers across Oklahoma to pay for eligible food such as fruits, vegetables, and meats.
Authorised retailers include major chains like Walmart and many local farmers markets and community-supported agriculture programs. Check out the complete list and map of store locations at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services site to access cheaper nutrition food!
Additional Benefits - Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
As a SNAP recipients, you are also entitled to other benefit programs that can help lower your overall household cost. Some examples are the two programs set up by the Federal Government to help low-income individuals and families stay connected, namely the Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).
Lifeline offers affordable phone and internet services for eligible participants by providing a subsidy that reduces monthly costs for phone services, while the ACP aims to provide affordable internet access, assisting eligible households overcome financial barriers to connectivity.
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Alternatively, you can visit one of our 30 stores in Oklahoma, where our service staff will help you with the application, including getting you through the complex National Verifier process to confirm your eligibility.
All we need is one of the following government-issued IDs as your identity proof:
- U.S. Driver License
- Certificate of U.S. Citizenship
- Certificate of Naturalization
- U.S. Passport
- U.S. Government, State or Tribal issued-ID
- U.S. Military ID cards
- Permanent Resident Cards
- Permanent Resident Alien Cards
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Our friendly team will be there to help you explore all available benefits and cheaper phone options. We take pride in our stellar customer service and truly care about our customers.
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