FAQs for Pennsylvania Food Stamps


Review some of the most Frequently Asked Questions, or FAQs, about SNAP in Pennsylvania. First-time recipients should read about common questions surrounding the food stamps program in Pennsylvania in order to understand the parameters clearly prior to applying for SNAP assistance from the state.


Can individuals apply for SNAP?

There are many federal aid programs to which only families can apply for in Pennsylvania. SNAP is available for all households, even if the households only have single members. However, SNAP does prioritize families, especially if those families include children or infants.


How much does a household receive from SNAP?

Unlike other aid programs, SNAP does not have a set amount of benefits that participants receive. Instead, how much a household receives from SNAP is determined by the overall income of everyone in the household, as well as how many people live in the house.

Are non-U.S. citizens able to get SNAP benefits?

The SNAP application does require proof of citizenship. The first identification section on the application asks for name, address, family status and proof of citizenship. While this may be discouraging to noncitizens, there are steps noncitizens can take to apply for SNAP – they just have to prove they have been in the country for at least five years, or that they have valid green cards or visas.

On the SNAP application, what are “countable resources?”

One of the determining factors for what a household receives from SNAP benefits is its “countable resources.” There are several different questions about countable resources on the application. This phrase simply refers to how much income an applicant has. Countable resources include things like work payments, but also factor in prices from stocks, investments or properties owned by an applicant.

What are Emergency SNAP Benefits?

Pennsylvania has a program known as Emergency SNAP. The program is an extension of SNAP that provides expedited benefits to households in serious financial trouble. The requirements for Emergency SNAP benefits are very strict: Applicants must receive less than $150 every month, and they cannot have more than $100 in countable resources.

Are unemployed applicants eligible for SNAP?

Unlike other federal aid programs, SNAP is available for applicants that are not currently employed. However, these applicants must enter the SNAP work program if they are accepted. Applicants must show that they are actively looking for jobs, or attending educational programs that will later help them find jobs, otherwise they will lose their benefits.

Can homeowners get SNAP benefits?

Some federal aid programs do not accept homeowners, since the amount of money that goes into a home is often enough to disqualify these applicants. SNAP, on the other hand, allows anyone with a home to apply, and even allows homeowners certain deductions in their countable resources to help determine eligibility.

Are students eligible for SNAP?

Students are technically allowed to apply for SNAP benefits, but they are marked as lower priority, since many schools have other food plans in place to help low-income students. Students that do apply for SNAP can use class time instead of work hours on their applications.

Can an applicant without a permanent address get SNAP benefits?

Applicants are not required to have permanent addresses to receive SNAP benefits. Applicants without homes may even be eligible for special discounts. Applicants without homes are also considered as higher priority.

Where can the SNAP application be completed?

Applicants can fill out all the necessary SNAP forms online, from home or at a local SNAP office. Applicants are required to visit the nearest SNAP office for mandatory interviews, if their initial applications are accepted. Applicants with valid medical conditions may request to do a phone interviews if they cannot safely visit SNAP offices.

How does an entirely family unit apply for SNAP?

One person is able to apply for SNAP benefits for the entire household. The SNAP application has a section for how many people live in a household, as well as the financial and personal information for all the household members.

Can households check the status of their SNAP applications?

It usually takes between two to four weeks for Pennsylvania SNAP applications to be processed. Applicants that have caseworkers issued can call them to find out the status of their applications. Otherwise, applicants can look online or directly call SNAP to check the status of their pending applications.

When will participants receive SNAP benefits?

If their initial application goes through, applicants are assigned caseworkers. However, applicants do not immediately receive benefits after getting caseworkers. In most situations, it takes an additional two months to receive an EBT card, unless the applicant is eligible for Emergency SNAP.

What is an EBT card?

This stands for Electronic Benefit Transfer card. The EBT card is what SNAP participants use to purchase food. Participants may only purchase food from Pennsylvania stores that indicate that they accept EBT cards or food stamps. EBT cards get refilled every month, with the total amount determined by the household income of the participants.

Is it possible to replace an EBT card?

If a SNAP participant misplaces an EBT card or if it is stolen, he or she is eligible for a replacement. The participant must contact the nearest SNAP office and report the card as missing. Once he or she receives a new card, the participant will be required to create a new PIN number for their card.

Does SNAP change a person or a family’s taxes?

Many households have to report their incomes from federal aid programs on their taxes. Fortunately, SNAP benefits do not have any impact on taxes. Households must report any of the benefits they receive from SNAP, but this is solely for record-keeping purposes.

Can participants qualify, but not receive any funds from SNAP?

Some participants are technically eligible for SNAP benefits, but they don’t receive any money on their EBT cards. These applicants are accepted because the SNAP program gives them access to other benefits, such as discounts and free lunches at school.

Do EBT cards work at restaurants inside grocery stores?

SNAP participants may only use their EBT cards to purchase food items from qualified merchants and grocery stores, but this does not apply to any chain restaurants inside of grocery stores. SNAP benefits almost never allow hot food items, but an exception may be made for elderly or disabled participants.

Can EBT cards be used for vitamins or health items?

Households have a great deal of freedom regarding what food items they can buy with SNAP benefits, but they cannot purchase any non-food items from grocery stores. Even healthy items, such as medicines or vitamins, cannot be purchased with EBT cards.

Can EBT cards be used at other locations?

In Pennsylvania, some farmers markets may accept EBT cards. In order to be eligible, farmers must first apply to be licensed SNAP merchants. Participants that live on farms may also be able to use their EBT cards to purchase seeds or livestock, as long as it is for the purpose of providing food for their households.