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    Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

    The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is the new name for the Food Stamp program. These benefits are used to buy food and help eligible low-income households in Pennsylvania obtain more nutritious diets by increasing their food purchasing power at grocery stores and supermarkets. If you are eligible, you will receive a Pennsylvania Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) ACCESS Card which is used to make food purchases at grocery stores and supermarkets.

    Starting November 1, 2013,

    SNAP benefits will be decreasing.

    The increased benefit amounts that were effective with the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as the Economic Stimulus Package are set to expire November 1, 2013.

    What is the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)?

    The ARRA is also known as the stimulus package. It became law in 2009 in order to foster economic
    activity in response to the recession.

    How did ARRA affect SNAP?

    ARRA increased the maximum SNAP allotment to provide larger benefit amounts to clients. This
    increase in benefits is expected to end on November 1, 2013.

    When will the changes from ARRA go into effect?

    SNAP benefits may go down starting on November 1.

    How much will my benefits change on November 1, 2013?

    Your benefits depend on many things—income, household size and expenses. So it is hard to say how
    your benefits will change. This table gives you an idea what the reduced amount might be for
    households that have no income. You will receive a notice telling you the amount of your new benefit.

    Household Size

    October 1, 2013

    (ARRA stimulus levels)

    November 1, 2013 Difference
    1 person$200$189-$11
    2 people$367$347-$20
    3 people$526$497-$29
    4 people$668$632-$36
    5 people$793$750-$43
    6 people$952$900-$52
    7 people$1,052$995-$57
    8 people$1,202$1,137-$65

    Additional people

    Add on (per person)


    How do I check the balance for my SNAP benefits to know how much I have?

    • The best way to know your balance is to keep your last receipt.
    • If you lose your last receipt and need to know your balance, call the recipient hotline, 24 hours a day/7 days a week, at 1-888-EBT-PENN(1-888-328-7366).
    • Information is also available online at

     How can I figure out how to feed my family healthful foods on a lower budget?

    The United States Department of Agriculture provides several resources to help you prepare healthy meals on a low budget:

    Pennsylvania provides additional information about healthy eating through Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed).

    The SNAP Recipe Finder helps you create cookbooks and shopping lists. Use it to search for recipes based on total cost or cost per serving.

     What should I do if I need food right away?

    Contact your regional food bank and ask for the nearest food distribution site. For information on food banks in your area visit or contact your local county assistance office.


     How to Apply:

    There are a couple of different ways to apply for SNAP, please choose the option that suits you. If you do not know if you are eligible, you may still apply.

    You can apply for or renew your SNAP benefits online by using COMPASS. COMPASS is the name of the website where you can apply for the SNAP program and many other services that can help you make ends meet.

    Or, you can file an application at your local county assistance office

    Application for cash assistance, SNAP and Medical Assistance Benefits (English version)

    Solicitud para recibir beneficios(Solicitud para recibir beneficios)

    If you need help completing the application form or need more information about benefits, trained county assistance office staff can help you.

    The following persons may apply:

    • The head of the household;
    • The spouse of the head of household;
    • Any other responsible household member; or
    • A designated authorized representative, who can be a friend, relative, neighbor, or anyone else the applicant trusts to go food shopping and use his/her SNAP benefits.

    What are the minimum and maximum monthly benefit amounts?

    Through October 31, 2013:
    Family Size12345678910Each Additional

    Minimum benefits for eligible households range from $2 to $16.

    Beginning November 2013:

    Family Size12345678910Each Additional
    Maximum$189$347$497$632$750$900$995$1137 $1279 $1421 +$142 

    Minimum benefits for eligible households range from $2 to $15.

    More information about the eligibility requirements for SNAP can be found in the SNAP Handbook.

    How do SNAP benefits Work?

    SNAP benefits are placed in an "electronic" account that only the recipient can use. This system is called Electronic Benefits Transfer or EBT. The eligible household receives a plastic card, the Pennsylvania EBT ACCESS Card. This card allows withdrawals for food purchases at grocery stores and supermarkets. The store simply uses the EBT ACCESS card to "electronically" subtract purchases from the SNAP account. The eligible household can only spend the amount that is in the account. This is not a credit card.

    What are the income eligibility requirements?

    To get SNAP benefits, your income has to be under certain limits.

    SNAP households may receive deductions from their gross income for things like housing costs, child or dependent care payments, and medical expenses over $35 for elderly or disabled people.

    Is there a resource/asset limit for SNAP?

    Yes. Most SNAP households are subject to a limit of:

    $5,500.00For any household that does not have an elderly or disabled member
    $9,000.00For any household that has an elderly (age 60 or older) or disabled member

    Assets include, but are not limited to: bank accounts, cash on hand, cars and motorcycles.

    Certain assets do not count in the asset test. Some of the assets that do not count include: one car, income tax refunds, educational savings accounts, pensions, retirement accounts, life insurance policies and the home you own and live in.

    Additional information regarding countable assets and the asset limits are available by viewing chapter 540, in the SNAP policy handbook.

    Questions Regarding SNAP Benefits

    If you have questions about SNAP you may call the Department of Public Welfare Helpline toll-free at 1-800-692-7462 (1-800-451-5886 TDD number for individuals with hearing impairments) or your local county assistance office.

    In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs, or disability.

    To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326 Witten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964.  Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing , or have speech disabilities and wish to communicate with the Office of Civil Rights, may call the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339 (English) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish).  USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

    General Information About SNAP




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