We know readers have various questions regarding how the Pennsylvania Food Stamps (SNAP Benefits) including how the application process works, income limits, eligibility, whether non-citizens can get benefits, how much you can get in benefits if approved, how long you can stay receive food stamps, and more. We decided to set up this Pennsylvania Food Stamps FAQs page to address the most common questions we get.
More questions will be added as and when we receive reader feedback.
Pennsylvania Food Stamps FAQs
Here are the most frequently asked questions about the Pennsylvania Food Stamps.
What are Pennsylvania Food Stamps
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps) assists low-income individuals and households to purchase nutritional food.
Eligibility for SNAP, as well as how much you will receive, is based on your household’s size and income level.
A household can be one person, a group of people, a family, or any combination of people that buy and prepare food together.
Children living with their parents are considered part of the same household until age 22.
Furthermore, many legal non-citizens are eligible for SNAP benefits.
Also, even if you can’t get SNAP benefits for yourself, other members of your household may be eligible.
The Food Stamps Program is a federal entitlement program.
This means that anyone that meets the eligibility requirements will receive benefits.
In the state of Pennsylvania, the SNAP program is managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS).
Once approved for SNAP, your monthly benefits are provided on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, also known as the Pennsylvania ACCESS card.
The PA ACCESS card works just like a bank debit card to buy food at most grocery stores and markets (including some Farmers Markets).
Am I Eligible for Pennsylvania SNAP Benefits?
There are three main requirements you have to meet to be eligible for SNAP benefits in Pennslyvania, as summarized below:
To get SNAP, you must meet the gross income and/or net income limits.
Additionally, to be eligible for SNAP, you cannot have cash-at-hand of more than $2,250/$3,500.
Lastly, all able-bodied adults ages 18-49 must work to get/and continue to receive SNAP benefits unless they meet exemptions.
However, if you are under the age of 18, pregnant, disabled, or elderly, you may be exempt from the work requirements.
Furthermore, Able-bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWD) need to fulfill work requirements in order to continue to receive SNAP benefits unless they meet exemptions.
What is the Income Limit for PA Food Stamps?
There are many factors that determine how much you will receive in SNAP benefits in Pennsylvania.
These include household size, monthly income, and if a member of your household is 60 years old or older, or has a disability.
The income limit is perhaps the most important factor.
Most households in Pennsylvania must have a total gross monthly income less than or equal to 130% of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines (FPIG), to be potentially eligible for SNAP.
The Pennsylvania SNAP Income Chart provided below shows both the gross monthly income and net monthly income based on your household size.
|PA SNAP Income Eligibility Standards for Fiscal Year 2022|
|Effective October 1, 2021 – September 30, 2022|
|Household Size||PA SNAP Maximum Gross Monthly Income (130% FPIG)||Maximum Gross Monthly Income for household with member age 60+ or disabled (200% FPIG)||Maximum Net Monthly Income (100% FPIG)|
|Each additional member||+$492||+$758||+$379|
How much will I get in Food Stamps in Pennsylvania?
If you are approved for Pennsylvania SNAP benefits, how much you will receive depends on your household size and net income.
The table below provides the maximum monthly benefit and the estimated average monthly benefit based on household size.
The amount you receive may differ from these amounts due to your income and other factors.
A SNAP budget must be calculated for your household in order to determine your SNAP eligibility and benefit amount.
|Household Size||Maximum SNAP Benefit||Estimated Average Monthly Benefit|
|Each additional member||(+$188)|
How Do I Apply for SNAP in Pennsylvania?
There are 3 ways you can apply for food stamps in Pennsylvania.
Option 1 – Apply online
You can apply online through the MyCOMPASS PA Portal – as shown in the image below.
If you have an account, you can log in or create your MyCOMPASS PA account. Click here to be taken to the website.
Option 2 – Apply at DHS Office Near You
You can apply in person at the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) office near you. Click here to locate a DHS office.
Option 3 – Download Pennsylvania Food Stamps Application
You can download an application, complete it, and mail it to your county DHS office or submit it in person.
Can Students get Pennsylvania Food Stamps?
Generally, Pennsylvania college students are not eligible for SNAP.
However, there are exceptions to this rule, including for PA Community College students (see below).
Students may be eligible for Pennsylvania SNAP if they are:
- Working 20 hours a week or more;
- Receiving federal or state work-study;
- Caring for a child under age 6;
- Caring for a child under age 12 if the student is a single parent in college full time;
- “unfit for work” (that is, have a medical barrier to employment);
- Under age 18 or over age 50; or
- Enrolled less than half time.
For a detailed list of all student exceptions, refer to Chapter 514.2 of the PA DHS SNAP Manual online here.
Exception for PA Community College Students
Starting in January 2018, many community college students may be eligible for
SNAP even if they don’t meet the above exceptions (if they otherwise qualify).
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (PA DHS) has issued new guidance expanding SNAP eligibility based on community college students’ participation in programs designed to improve their employability.
For more on these guidelines, click here.
Which Community College Students are Eligible?
Pennsylvania community college students may potentially be eligible for SNAP if they are participating in either:
- Career or technical education program under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006; or
- Programs associated with high-priority occupations. Almost all community college students should be eligible (assuming they apply for SNAP and otherwise qualify).
For more details on eligibility guidelines for students and how to apply, click here.
Can immigrants and refugees get Pennsylvania Food Stamps?
Yes. New laws have made most legal immigrants eligible for food stamps.
As a general rule, almost all legal immigrants are eligible for food stamps once they have been in the U.S. for five years.
To be eligible, an immigrant must qualify to get food stamps. This means they must be one of these types of immigrants:
- “Green card” holders (lawful permanent residents);
- Refugees, asylum seekers, Cuban/Haitian entrants, or Amerasian immigrants;
- If you are granted withholding of deportation or withholding of removal;
- Persons paroled into the United States for at least one year;
- Persons with conditional entrant status, or
- Victims of domestic violence or immigrant trafficking under some circumstances.
However, some qualified immigrants are eligible for food stamps right away. Those eligible immediately include:
- Immigrant children under age 18;
- Immigrants who receive benefits based on severe disability (such as SSI or disability-related Medicaid, if the disability will last a year or more);
- Refugees, asylum seekers, Cuban/Haitian entrants, Amerasians, and persons granted withholding of deportation or withholding of removal in the U.S.;
- Immigrants with work histories (who can claim 40 quarters of work through their own employment or through adding that of their parents or spouses);
- Veterans and active-duty members of the U.S. armed forces, along with their spouses and dependent children; and
- Certain Hmong or Laotian Highland tribe members, and their spouses and dependent children.
What can I buy with Pennsylvania Food Stamps?
Your Pennsylvania ACCESS EBT card works like a debit card. You can use this card to buy food at most grocery stores.
At the checkout counter, swipe the card and enter a 4-digit PIN number to use your SNAP/food stamps to buy food.
You can buy any food product available at participating grocery stores (with the exception of prepared foods).
You can locate stores that accept Pennsylvania SNAP benefits online at Snap Retailer Locator.
Additionally, you can use your SNAP benefits at participating PA farmers’ markets and healthy corner stores.
Here’s what you can buy with Pennsylvania SNAP EBT:
- Fruits and vegetables;
- Meat, poultry, and fish;
- Dairy products;
- Breads and cereals;
- Other foods such as snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages; and
- Seeds and plants, which produce food for the household to eat.
You CANNOT use Pennsylvania SNAP EBT benefits to buy:
- Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco
- Vitamins, medicines, and supplements. If an item has a Supplement Facts label, it is considered a supplement and is not eligible for SNAP purchase.
- Live animals (except shellfish, fish removed from water, and animals slaughtered prior to pick-up from the store).
- Prepared Foods fit for immediate consumption
- Hot foods
- Any nonfood items such as:
– Pet foods
– Cleaning supplies, paper products, and other household supplies.
– Hygiene items, cosmetics
How to Check Pennsylvania EBT Card Balance?
There are three ways to check your Pennsylvania ACCESS Card balance.
Option 1 – Via Phone
Call the Pennsylvania EBT recipient hotline at 1-888-EBT-PENN (1-888-328-7366).
Option 2 – Online
- You can check the balance online here.
Option 3 – Using the Last Transaction Receipt.
- You can also check the balance by locating your Last Receipt
What are the SNAP Work Requirements for Pennsylvania?
SNAP has two sets of work requirements:
If you are age 16 – 59 and able to work, you will probably need to meet the general work requirements to get SNAP benefits.
The general work requirements include:
- Registering for work
- Participating in SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) or workfare if assigned by your state SNAP agency,
- Taking a suitable job if offered, and not voluntarily quitting a job or reducing your work hours below 30 a week without a good reason.
Additionally, if you are age 18 – 49, able to work, and don’t have any dependents, you might need to meet both the general work requirements and an additional work requirement for ABAWDs to get SNAP for more than 3 months in 3 years (the time limit).
Pennsylvania Food Stamps FAQs Summary
We hope our post on the Pennsylvania Food Stamps FAQs was helpful to you!
If you need additional help determining your eligibility for food stamps or submitting your application for Pennsylvania SNAP, please let us know in the comments section below.
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