Somerset County Board of Social Services

Food Stamp Program Facts


The Food Stamp Program provides monthly benefits that help low-income households buy the food they need for good health. You may qualify for food stamps if you:

  • work for low wages
     

  • are unemployed or work part-time
     

  • receive welfare or other assistance payments, or
     

  • are elderly or disabled and live on a small income.

APPLYING FOR FOOD STAMPS

The Food Stamp Program will give you an application form on the same day you ask for one. You may ask for it in person, over the phone, or by mail; or someone else may get one for you. You may also apply on-line at
www.state.nj.us/humanservices/dfd/foodstamp.html

The office will accept the form on the same day you turn it in, even if they cannot interview you on that day.

If you are applying for public assistance such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) or General Assistance (GA), you may apply for food stamps at the same time.

If you are applying for or receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you may apply for food stamps at your Social
Security District Office.

All other households must apply for food stamps through their local food stamp office.

After you have turned in your application, a worker will hold a confidential interview with you or another member of your household.
At the interview, the worker will explain the program rules and help you complete any parts of the application that you have not filled out. The worker will also ask you for proof of certain information that you have provided. Ask the worker to explain anything you donít understand. Itís important that you understand the rules.

Most interviews are held at the Social Services Office. If no one in your household can go to the office for an interview, you may appoint any responsible adult to act as your authorized representative.

In some cases if you are disabled, or face certain hardships, you wonít need to have an office interview. A home visit or telephone interview can be arranged.


MEETING ELIGIBILITY RULES AND PROVIDING PROOF THAT YOU ARE ELIGIBLE

Listed below are some of the basic eligibility rules and the kinds of proof you may be asked to provide during your interview. Your case may be processed faster if you bring to your interview the proof that is needed.

If you have trouble getting documents or information you need, the worker will help you. If the documents are not available, you may give the name of someone, such as your
employer, who can confirm you statements.


CITIZENSHIP: U.S. citizens and only certain legal aliens may qualify. If members of your household are not U.S. citizens, you will have to provide proof of their status from the Immigration and Naturalization Service before they can qualify for food stamps.

Even if some members of your household do not meet the citizenship requirements, those who do may qualify for food stamps.


SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS: You will have to provide a Social Security number for every household member, including children. If any household member does not have a Social Security number, he or she will have to apply for one. If you are otherwise eligible for food stamps, you can receive them for a limited time while you are waiting for your Social Security number.


WORK RULES: Able bodied adults without dependents are only eligible to receive food stamps for 3 out of each 36 month period unless they:

  • work at least 30 hours per week
     

  • participate in a Department of Labor training program
     

  • live in an area which has over 15% unemployment.

All unemployed adults with children over six must register for the Food Stamp Employment and Training Program.


PERSONS ON STRIKE: Households with persons who are on strike because of a labor dispute are not eligible unless they would have been eligible before the strike. Eligible households cannot receive a higher allotment because of a decrease in the income of the striking member.


RESOURCES: Under food stamp rules, some resources are counted and some are not. The worker will explain which are counted. All households may have up to $2,000 worth of countable resources. For households in which at least one member is over age 60, the resource limit is $3,000. Part of the value of most vehicles is counted as a resource. Some of the resources that will not be counted are

  • An automobile whose fair market value is $9500 or less.
     

  • Your home and surrounding lot
     

  • Household goods and personal belongings
     

  • Life Insurance Policies

Examples of resources that will be counted are:

  • Cash and money in savings accounts
     

  • Stocks and Bonds
     

  • Land and buildings, other than your home and lot, that do not produce income.

Acceptable Verifications: Bank books or statement and proof of other countable resources.


INCOME: Under food stamp rules the income of all the members of the household is counted. In order to qualify, the total income must fall below certain limits which are determined according to household size. All income must be verified.


Acceptable verifications: Recent pay stubs or a statement from your employer; benefit letters from Social Security, Veterans Administration, the unemployment office or private pension program.


DEDUCTIONS:


After adding all your householdís countable income, the worker will allow certain deductions to be subtracted. The following deductions are allowed for all households:

  • A standard deduction, to cover basic household expenses
     

  • A 20% deduction from the income you earn
     

  • A deduction for the actual costs of dependent care and/or a portion of high shelter expenses. There is a maximum on the amount of these expenses that may be deducted. (Dependent care includes care for children and disabled adults, if this care is needed so that a household member can work, look for a job, or get training or an education leading to a job).

Households with members who are disabled or age 60 or older may qualify for two extra deductions:

  • A deduction for medical costs over $35 a month that are incurred by members who are disabled or age 60 or older. These costs are deductible only if they are not covered by insurance, a government program, or some other source.
     

  • An extra deduction for high shelter costs.

Acceptable verifications: Bills or records of payments for the following:

  • Dependent care costs, such as babysitter,
    day care center, or attendant for a disabled adult
     

  • Rent, mortgage, or property taxes
     

  • Insurance on the structure, but not the contents of the home
     

  • Telephone, electricity, gas, oil, water, sewerage, garbage collection, and installation costs for utilities
     

  • Medical bills and proof of any reimbursement, such as an insurance policy or statement from an insurance company or agency paying these bills.

ISSUING BENEFITS

Benefits are issued through a Family First card that looks like a credit card and is used to access benefits at grocery stores that display the Quest logo.


USING YOUR FOOD STAMPS
Food stamps may be used for food and for plants and seeds to grow food for your household to eat.


Food stamps can not buy:

  • Alcoholic beverages
     

  • Tobacco or cigarettes
     

  • Household supplies, soaps, and paper products
     

  • Medicines or vitamins
     

  • Any other non-food items
     

  • Food that will be eaten in the store
     

  • Hot foods that are ready to eat, such as barbecued chicken
    Pet foods

SOMERSET COUNTY BOARD OF SOCIAL SERVICES
also provides

  • Cash Assistance
     

  • Medicaid
     

  • Medical Transportation
     

  • Case Management
     

  • Adult Protective Services
     

  • Homemaker Service for Disabled Adults
     

  • Housing Services
     

  • Employment & Training Programs


Field Office
610 Franklin Blvd.
Somerset, NJ 08873-1144
Phone: (732)846-6499
FAX: (732) 846-5713
Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Central Office
73 East High Street
Somerville, NJ 08876-0936
Phone: (908) 526-8800
FAX: (908) 203-9991
Monday-Friday
8:15 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Field Office
391-D Somerset Street
North Plainfield, NJ 07060
Phone: (908)561-9400
FAX: (908) 561-6567
Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.