Food Stamps Application Instructions

In order to start receiving SNAP Food Stamp benefits you'll first need to apply, and these are some of the ways you can do that:

Online Application

Perhaps the most convenient way is to apply online, via COMPASS website: This is a web application used to apply not only for SNAP enrollment, but also for other Pennsylvania-funded programs like medical or cash assistance.

Walk-In/Mail Application

You can also download an application form, which could be found at: Once you've filled it out, there are several ways to turn it in. You can do this in person, through an authorized representative, by fax or by mail.

If you choose to turn in your application, in person, to your county assistance office. A full list of county offices can be found here:

Additional Application Information

The application can be filed by anyone, regardless of which person is actually applying for benefits. The county assistance office must date-stamp your application, so your SNAP benefits can be paid retroactively if the household is eligible during the month of the application.

Besides having a properly filled out application form, you'll also need to gather additional documents which are used a proof of your eligibility. These documents are:

  • An ID, which could be a U.S. passport, or any other state-issued ID document that lists your name and address on it.
  • Your income documentation, like a bank statement, which shows your financial activity during the previous month.
  • Documentation of your assets; which could be your stocks and bonds, savings accounts or mortgage documentation.

The process of the application and approval usually takes these three steps:

  1. You'll need to properly fill out an application form and turn it in at your local county assistance office, or via website.
  2. Next step is to have an interview where you can discuss you situation and where you might need to provide any additional information.
  3. Final step is to gather and turn in any documentation which proves your eligibility and which is used to calculate the amount of your monthly benefits.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to be eligible for SNAP benefits, you'll need to meet the following criteria:

  • You need to be a U.S. citizen or a legal alien
  • You need to be a resident of the state of Pennsylvania
  • You need to meet a certain income limits: There are two different groups of potential enrollees with two different income limits. The first groups are enrollees with a current bank balance of $2,001. The second group are enrollees with a current bank balance under $3,000 who share their household with a senior citizen (age 60 and over), or with a person with disability.
  • Regardless of which category you're in, you also need to meet a certain annual income limit: If your household has only one member, your annual income needs to be less than $14,079; For a household of two, annual income needs to be less than $18,941; For a household of three, annual income needs to be less than $23,803; For each additional member or your household, you need to add amount of $4,862.
  • Finally, your household needs to meet a resource/asset limit:Asset limit for any household that doesn't have an elderly or disabled member is $5,500; Asset limit for any household that has an elderly of disabled member is $9,000. Assets include your current bank balance; cash on hand, cars and motorcycles. On the other hand, there are some assets which are non-countable: the house you live in, one car, income tax returns, retirement account, and life insurance policies.

In order to prove that you're eligible, you'll need to gather the documents which will show that you meet all of the previously listed criteria.

Eligible U.S. citizens are:

  • People who were born in the U.S
  • People who were naturalized by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)
  • People who got citizenship from parents who were naturalized U.S. citizens
  • People who were granted citizenship through any of the government programs or any other official way

You also need to show that you're a resident of the State of Pennsylvania. There's no limit on time you previously needed to spend in this state. You can apply in case you just moved to Pennsylvania and even if you don't plan on staying for a longer period of time.