WHAT IS SNAP?
SNAP is Maryland’s Food Stamp Program. SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and is a government program designed to help low income people be able to afford purchasing food for their family.
CAN A CONVICTED FELON APPLY FOR SNAP BENEFITS?
Yes. If you meet certain requirements.
During the War on Drugs, Section listing 115 of the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act prevented states from supplying food stamps to felons with drug convictions. Many states have since eliminated that ban completely, others have modified the ban. Only 6 states continue to ban eligibility based on a felony drug charges, but Maryland is among the states that have modified the ban.
As of October, 2017, Maryland law has changed and the restriction on application eligibility has been modified, although not completely eliminated.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS OF A CONVICTED FELON TO APPLY FOR SNAP BENEFITS?
During the 2018 session, the Maryland General Assembly changed Food Stamp Program (SNAP) requirements for program benefit eligibility. The new law disqualifies applicants and recipients who are convicted of only two types of drug-related felonies for Food Stamp Program participation:
- volume dealer drug felony – an individual who manufactures, distributes, dispenses, or possesses certain quantities of a controlled dangerous substance
- drug kingpin felony – an organizer, supervisor, financier, or manager who acts as a co-conspirator in a conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, dispense, transport in, or bring into the State a controlled dangerous substance.
If you have been convicted of any other drug-related felony involving the possession, use, or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance after August 22, 1996, you will now be able to maintain eligibility.
HOW DO I APPLY FOR THE FOOD SUPPLEMENT PROGRAM?
There are several ways to file an application for the Food Supplement Program benefits:
1) You can file an application online at myDHR.
2) Local department of social services will give or mail you an application on the same day you ask for one. You may ask for it in person, over the phone, by mail or someone else may pick one up for you.
3) You also can download a SNAP APPLICATION
The office will accept a signed application form on the same day you turn it in even if they cannot interview you on that day. Fill in as much as you can, sign it, and turn it in. A case manager will help you with things you cannot fill out during your interview.
YOU MUST ANSWER ALL QUESTIONS COMPLETELY AND HONESTLY. IF YOU FAIL TO DO SO, YOU CAN BE REMOVED FROM THE PROGRAM, FINED, PUT IN PRISON, OR ALL THREE.
WHAT KIND OF DOCUMENTATION DO I NEED TO PROVE ELIGIBILITY TO APPLY FOR THE FOOD SUPPLEMENT PROGRAM?
You case will be determined faster if you bring the documents and proof of eligibility with you to the interview. If you have trouble getting papers (documents) or information you need, the case manager may be able to help you. If the papers are not easy to get, you may be able to give the name and phone number of someone, such as your employer, who can confirm your statements.
Below are some of the documents that you will need:
- CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION STATUS
Some people who are not U.S. citizens are not eligible for the Food Supplement Program (FSP).
There are exceptions for:
- immigrants whose deportation has been withheld
- Cuban/Haitian entrants
- Amerasians and some immigrants legally admitted for permanent residence
- aliens granted conditional entry and
- certain battered spouses and children
Border Crossing Native Americans, certain Iraqi and afghan immigrants, victims of human trafficking and Hmong or Laotian tribe members may also be eligible.
Even if some members of your household are not eligible, those who are may be able to get food supplement benefits.
2. SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS for each member of the household.
You will have to provide a Social Security number for every household member, including children, except for undocumented immigrants applying on behalf of others.
If any household member, other than an undocumented immigrant does not have a Social Security number, he or she will have to apply for one.
3. WORK RULES
With certain exceptions, able-bodied adults between 16 and 60 years of age must register for work, accept an offer of suitable work, and take part in an employment and training program when referred to one by the local department of social services.
HOW WILL THEY DETERMINE IF I AM ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE SNAP BENEFITS?
After adding all of your household’s countable income, the case manager will subtract certain deductions.
The following deductions are allowed for all households to determine if you meet income eligibility requirements:
- standard deduction;
- 20 percent of earned income;
- actual costs of dependent care costs for children and disabled adults if this care is needed so that a household member can work, look for a job, or get training or education leading to a job;
- legally owed and paid child-support payments;
- shelter expenses and utility expenses;
- medical expenses over $35 a month for household members who are age 60 or older or receiving certain disability payments.
You will need to bring proof of these things to your interview.
WHAT KIND OF PROOF AND VERIFICATION IS REQUIRED FOR INCOME ELIGIBILITY?
- verification of income, such has but not limited to: paystubs, letter from employer or award letter.
- child-support payments, such as a court order and cancelled checks and the legal obligation to pay;
- verification of legal immigrant status for eligible immigrants;
- medical expenses for individuals 60 or older or disabled;
- any information which is questionable or conflicting.
HOW WILL I FIND OUT IF I QUALIFY FOR FOOD STAMP BENEFITS?
After your interview, the local department will send you a notice.
If you do not qualify for FSP benefits, the notice will provide the reason.
If you qualify for benefits, the notice will explain how much food supplement benefits you will get. It will also tell you how many months you can get food supplement benefits before you must reapply.
If you think your application has been wrongly denied or that you have not gotten the correct amount of food supplement benefits, you should tell the office. If they do not agree, you must ask them to have your case reviewed by a fair hearing official.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO KNOW IF I QUALIFY FOR FOOD SUPPLEMENT BENEFITS?
If you are found to be eligible, you should get your food supplement benefits no later than 30 days from the date you first applied, unless you qualify for faster service.
I HAVE NO INCOME AND NO FOOD NOW. HOW CAN I APPLY TO GET FOOD STAMPS RIGHT AWAY?
If you have no income (or very little income) for the month and you need help right away, you may qualify for Expedite Food Supplement benefits within 7-days.
IF I QUALIFY, HOW DO I RECEIVE MY FOOD SUPPLEMENT PROGRAM BENEFITS?
In Maryland, the Food Supplement Program benefits are issued on an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card, called the Independence Card. You use this card to buy your food.
WHAT KIND OF FOOD CAN I BUY WITH THE CARD?
You can use your Independence Card to buy food and for plants and seeds to grow food for your household to eat.
Sales tax cannot be charged on items bought with food stamps.
Food stamps cannot be used to buy:
- any nonfood item, such as pet foods; soaps, paper products, and household supplies; grooming items, toothpaste, and cosmetics
- alcoholic beverages and tobacco
- vitamins and medicines
- hot foods that are ready to eat
IF I AM ENROLLED IN COLLEGE, CAN I APPLY FOR SNAP?
Generally, most students ages 18 through 49 who are enrolled in college or other institutions of higher education at least half time are not eligible for food stamps.
However, students may be able to get FSP benefits if they are eligible under other eligibility criteria:
- get cash assistance benefits under a TCA program;
- take part in a State or federally financed work study program;
- work at least 20 hours a week (no averaging);
- are taking care of a dependent household member under the age of 6;
- are taking care of a dependent household member over the age of 5 but under 12 and do not have adequate child care to enable them to attend school and work a minimum of 20 hours, or to take part in a State or federally financed work study program; or
- are a single parent in school full-time with a child under 12; or
- are assigned to or placed in a college or certain other schools through:
- a program under the Work Force Investment Act,
- a program under Section 236 of the Trade Act of 1974,
- an employment and training program under the Food Stamp Act, or
- an employment and training program operated by a State or local government.
- are receiving disability and receiving SSI, SSA or VA disability payments, or
- have a disability verified by a doctor or licensed psychologist.