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DSS will send 10 strike teams on Monday into coastal parishes affected by the spill, such as Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and Jefferson parishes, to assist individuals in applying who might be eligible for the regular SNAP program. Exact locations will be determined in coordination with federal, state and local partners.
Individuals can also apply for regular SNAP benefits by downloading an application and mail the application back to their local DSS office.
"We encourage those families that have been directly impacted by this tragedy through a loss of income to apply for regular SNAP benefits to help supplement their food needs," said DSS Secretary Kristy Nichols. "DSS strike teams will begin visiting the area on Monday to help those individuals through the application process as quickly as possible."
Households can use regular SNAP benefits to purchase foods for the household to eat, such as breads and cereals; fruits and vegetables; meats, fish and poultry; and dairy products. Recipients can also purchase seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat. In some areas, restaurants can be authorized to accept regular SNAP benefits from qualified homeless, elderly, or disabled people in exchange for low-cost meals.
In order to be eligible for the regular SNAP program, you must meet both resource and income eligibility requirements. To be eligible, most Louisiana households must have less than $2,000 in resources, such as in a bank account. If at least one household member is age 60 or older or includes a disabled member, that amount is increased to $3,000.
In addition, households must meet both the gross and net income tests. For example, a family of four cannot exceed a gross income of $2,389 and a net income of $1,838. A household only has to meet the net income test if the household includes a person who is 60 years old or older or a person who is receiving certain types of disability payments.
Benefit amounts are established by the USDA-Food and Nutrition Service and depend on both the number of persons in the household and the monthly income amount remaining after all allowable deductions have been subtracted. For example, the maximum monthly amount for a family of four is $668.
When applying, households need to provide the following information, if applicable, to prove eligibility:
- Identification, such as driver's license, work or school ID, check stub or birth certificate;
- Social Security card;
- Proof of wages, such as last 4 pay check stubs or employer's statement for each person who works.
- Proof of self-employment - income tax returns, sales records, quarterly tax records, personal wage record;
- Other income such as contributions, child support, alimony, Social Security, SSI, VA, retirement checks, Unemployment Compensation (UCB) - award letters, court orders, statements from contributors
- Proof that income has stopped within the last 3 months - pink slip, termination notice, or statement from former employer, termination notice or statement from source of any income that ended
- Housing expenses - rent receipts, mortgage papers, homeowners insurance papers, and property tax papers
- Any Dependent care expenses - receipts or statements from the dependent care provider
- Medical expenses - receipts, pharmacy printouts for last 3 months, doctor bills or other papers that show medical expenses for household members who are disabled or over age 59.
- Child support payments made to someone outside your home - court order or other legal papers and proof that you are making payments such as canceled checks or wage withholding statements; and
- Resources - current bank statements, papers that prove ownership and value of property that you own (other than where you live), papers for any other type of resource such as stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, etc.
"Those impacted have suffered a great deal of stress over the past 2 weeks, and wondering if they will be able to put food on the table for their families should not add to that stress," Nichols said. "We will expedite these cases as fast as legally possible in order to get the benefits to those who need it most."
Once an application is received, DSS has a maximum of 30 days to provide benefits, even though clients usually receive confirmation of eligibility in less than that time period. Regular SNAP applications meeting federal criteria for expedited services will be processed within four days of the application date.