Maine Food Stamps Application Information
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The Food Supplement Program, food stamps, is administered by the Office for Family Independence (OFI) of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
The amount of benefits you can get from SNAP Food Stamp benefits is based on the Thrifty Food Plan of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This plan, which varies every year, is an estimation of the prices of healthy and nutritious meals for families.
In the SNAP program, a household is usually defined as a group of individuals living together and buying and preparing foods together. If your household qualifies for the program, the amount of benefits you will get depends on how many people are there in your household and your income each month after certain deductions has been made.
You must remember that the food stamps assistance you get from the Food Supplement Program is merely a portion of your food budget; you also need to spend your own money along with the program benefits to be able to buy adequate food for your family.
If you will qualify for SNAP, you will receive your benefits within 30 days from the day you applied. If you have very little income or none at all for the month and you need assistance immediately, you may be able to get your benefits in seven days.
Maine's Pine Tree Card
The Pine Tree Card or Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card is a plastic debit card where SNAP benefits are issued. It can be used to pay for your meals, as well as for other programs in Maine such as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF.
You can use your Pine Tree Card at all stores with a Quest logo on their windows or doors, or at certain farmers' markets (you should ask the seller first if they accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance benefits before buying). In addition, you can also use your EBT card for the Meals on Wheels Program.
Your name can be seen in front of the card. Before using it, you need a PIN (personal identification number). To acquire or changer your PIN, you should contact the phone number indicated on your Pine Tree Card or come to the nearest office of DHHS OFI.
Once you have your PIN, never give it to other people and certainly do not write it on the back of your EBT card. If some other person has your card and PIN, your electronic benefits from the program can be all used up.
Your SNAP benefits can be used like cash at the majority of stores selling food. When buying, you may be asked to show your EBT card and another ID. You can only use it to purchase foods for your family to eat, as well as plants and seeds to grow food. The items you buy using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance cannot be charged with sales tax.
The following are the items you cannot buy using your program benefits:
- Tobacco and alcoholic beverages
- Medicines and vitamins
- Any non-food items like soaps, toothpaste, grooming items, pet foods, household supplies, paper products, and cosmetics
- Ready-to-eat hot foods
- Foods that are sold to be eaten in the store
- Foods that will be consumed inside the store
The following are the ones who may be eligible for the Food Supplement Program (Food Stamps):
- Individuals working for low wages
- People who are working part-time or unemployed
- Disabled or elderly people who are living on a small income
- On-the-Job Training
- Homeless people
- Individuals who get public assistance payments
To qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Income: You must meet a certain income limit to become eligible, depending on the number of individuals in your family. You need to provide proof of all your household income such as statement from your employer, recent pay stub, as well as benefit letters from Veterans Administration, Social Security, pensions, or unemployment compensation. Even if you feel that your income do not meet the requirements, you should still apply since certain deductions may be subtracted.
- Citizenship: You must be a citizen of the United States or a qualified non-citizen to qualify for SNAP. If some of your household members do not meet this requirement, those who do may still receive program benefits.
- Social Security Number: Each member of your household, including children, must have a Social Security number. If somebody does not have this, he/she must apply for one.
- Resources: Your household must have countable resources not exceeding the amount of $2,000; those households who have at least one member who is 60 years old or older may have up to $3,000 worth. These countable resources may include bank accounts, real estate, certain vehicles, cash, personal properties, bonds, and stocks. There are, however, certain resources that will not be counted such as your home where you reside and the surrounding lot, your personal belongings and household goods, as well as your life insurance policies.
If you need more information the Food Supplement Program, you should visit the DHHS Supplemental Nutrition Assistance office nearest you.
Food Stamps Application Instructions
To acquire benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), you only need to call or visit the nearest local office of DHHS OFI and finish an interactive interview; you don't need to fill out an application form. During this process, all the information that you provide is typed into a computer. After it is completed, the interviewer will ask you to sign the printed application form. If the interview process is done over the phone, the application form with all the details you gave will be mailed to you so you can sign it. Some of the information you provided may need verification before you become eligible for the program.
Even though it is not required, you may still ask for an application form if you prefer it that way. You may request one by mail, over the phone, in person, or download it. Click here to get the food stamps application: www.maine.gov/dhhs/ofi/services/snap/
Fill the form with your name, address, contact number, and all the details you can give, and then sign it. Submit it to your local office immediately; they will accept it the same day you pass it even if they are unable to give you an interview that time. The rest of the application form will be filled out by an eligibility worker during the interview process.
It is very important to answer all the questions honestly because you will suffer consequences if you do fail to respond truthfully. You may be fined, removed from SNAP, put in jail, or even all three.
After the interview process, you will receive a notice from the OFI office. It will state if you are qualified or not. If you do not qualify, an explanation will be included. If you do qualify to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, the notice will inform you how much benefits you will receive and how many months you can get assistance before you need to reapply.