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You Should Know: Louisiana SNAP (Food Stamps) Benefits (Article + FAQs)

Authored By: Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (New Orleans office) LSC Funded
Contents

Information

 

If you are looking for information on how to apply for food stamps:

  • All of the information below will be helpful to you.

 

If you are already receiving SNAP benefits, you may want to start at:

  • ⭐ I already receive SNAP benefits. What do I need to know about changes DCFS made in response to COVID-19?" 

 

For more information:

FAQs

Can I apply for Disaster Food Stamps (DSNAP)? +

No. While DSNAP was provided after previous federal disaster declarations, it has not been provided for this one. Instead changes have been made to regular SNAP.

I don’t have SNAP (food stamps) benefits yet. How do I apply? +

The Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) offices are closed to the public but workers are still working and processing applications. You cannot apply in person.

 

There are still two ways you can apply:

 

  • Apply online on the DCFS "Cafe"  Self Service Portal.
    • Submit any proof that you have on hand with your application. If you do not have a copier, you can take pictures of your documents on your phone and upload the pictures to your application. (more information on this below)
    • But if you do not have some, or even all, of the proof, file your application without it. The amount of money you get is based on your application date. So do not wait to file.

 

  • Mail or fax a paper application to DCFS. We do not recommend this method because it might take longer to get your benefits than it would if you apply other ways. If you use a paper application, here are the steps:

DCFS Economic Stability
P.O. Box 260031
Baton Rouge, LA 70826

Or, fax it to (225) 663-3164.

I can’t apply online and I can’t get through the phone lines to give them my application. +

If you cannot submit your application online for some reason and cannot download a paper application, contact DCFS at 1-888-524-3578 or email them at LAHelpU.DCFS@la.gov.

 

If you still cannot submit your application, you can apply for free legal help.

What proof do I need to submit? And when do I need to submit it? +

You need to give DCFS proof that you qualify for SNAP benefits. You can get your SNAP benefits faster if you turn the proof in at the same time you turn in your application.

 

But, if you don’t have the proof they need or don’t have a way to send the proof with your application, you can turn in your application first and then turn in the proof later. DCFS will contact you to let you know what proof you still need and will help you figure out a way to submit it. If you cannot get the proof, ask your DCFS worker for help. By law, the worker must try to help you if you ask. Make sure you keep copies of anything that you turn in. If you cannot get to a copy machine, you can also take pictures of proof on your phone.

 

Identity

You must prove the identity of the person who is turning in the application. This is the most important proof for you to give DCFS. You should turn it in with your application if you can. You cannot get benefits before you prove your identity.

 

Here are some things you can turn in to prove your identity. You only need one:

 

  • Driver’s License
  • State ID
  • Medical card (Medicaid, Medicare, Health Insurance, VA Card)
  • ID card for some other social service program
  • Work ID
  • School ID
  • Voter’s Registration Card
  • Check Stub
  • Birth Certificate
  • If none of these are available, you can confirm your identity through a “collateral contact.” A collateral contact is someone outside of your household who can confirm your situation. This can include employers, landlords, social services agencies, or neighbors who can be expected to provide accurate information. DCFS will call the collateral contact to prove your identity.

 

Other Proof

Here is a list of the other things you need to prove and what things you can use to prove them.

Note that some people can start getting their benefits before they turn in all of this proof. But you will need to turn them in later to keep getting benefits.

 

Social Security Number for all who will be receiving SNAP
 
Copy of Social Security card or

 

Papers received at the hospital for a newborn

Alien status If not a US citizen, forms or cards from USCIS.
 
If someone who lives with you does not have legal residency in the US, you can choose not to include them in your SNAP application. Then you will not need to provide this information.
 
If someone has a green card, applying for SNAP benefits is NOT a factor the government will use for deciding whether to approve a citizenship application.
Earned income, if you have any Last four pay check stubs or employer statements for each person who works
Self-Employment, if you have any Income tax returns, sales records, quarterly tax records, personal wage record
Other income, if you have any: This could include child support, alimony, Social Security, SSI, VA, retirement checks, Unemployment Compensation Award letters

 

Court orders

Statements from contributors

Proof income stopped within the last 3 months Pink slip

 

Termination notice

Statement from former employer

Statement from any source of income saying that the income has ended

Medical expenses Receipts

 

Pharmacy printouts from the last 3 months

Doctor bills

Child support payments to someone outside your home
 
Court order or other legal papers and proof that you are making payments – like cancelled checks or wage withholding statements

What happens next? +

  • If your application needs more information, DCFS will try to call you at the number you listed in your application. Keep the phone charged and close by. Make sure to answer the calls in case they call you. Submit any additional proof DCFS tells you to turn in.
  • Make sure you check your mail in case DCFS sends you a letter. If you applied online and created an account, you can also check your account to see if DCFS sent you a notice there.
  • EBT Card. DCFS will mail the EBT card (like a debit card just for eligible food) to the address you give them in your application. When you get the EBT card, it may or may not have benefits loaded on it. DCFS will load the benefits onto the card after it approved your application. Visit http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/page/electronic-benefits-transfer-ebt for more information about EBT cards.

 

You can also find information about EBT cards at https://louisianalawhelp.org/resource/food-stamps-the-electronic-benefits-card?ref=9dubk

How quickly can I get SNAP benefits? +

Because of COVID-19, DCFS has received a large number of applications for benefits recently. So, there are delays for getting applications approved. However, by law, your food stamp application by law must be decided in 30 days, unless you have not turned in the needed proof.

 

Tips for getting SNAP benefits quickly

  • Submit as much proof as you can with your application.
  • Apply online and set up an account for your online application if you can. To set up an account, you need to have an email address. However, we recommend that you only set up an online account if you check your email account regularly.
  • If you have a phone that gets text messages, sign up for text alerts when you apply. You will get a text message when there is a new notice in your account.
  • If you set up an on-line account, check your account at least once a day to see if there are notices in it.
  • Make sure to check your mail every day.
  • Make sure to keep your phone charged and near you. Answer calls you receive in case a DCFS worker calls you to get more information.
  • If you have questions about your application, contact your DCFS worker by
    • Messaging your working through your online account
    • Emailing LaHelpU.DCFS@la.gov. But note that you might need to wait a long time for a response.
    • Calling 1-888-524-3578. But phone lines are busy so expect to wait on hold for a long time before you can talk to someone.
  • If you need help getting proof, write a note on your application and tell your DCFS worker during when they call.

Do I have to work or register for work to get SNAP benefits right now? +

Usually, many of the people in Louisiana who receive SNAP benefits have to register for work. Because of COVID-19, DCFS has suspended those rules. However, they will put those rules back after the emergency has passed. If you cannot work because you have physical or mental conditions that make you unfit for work, you should let your DCFS caseworker know.

Where can I get food while I’m waiting for DCFS to make its decision? +

While you are waiting for DCFS to approve your SNAP application, you might be able to get food from a food pantry and other programs in our community. Read https://slls.org/food/ for more information.

 

Grab and Go meals at schools and other locations

Most schools and some other organizations are providing free meals for children under 18 years old. For most programs, a guardian over 18 years old can pick up the meals. Children do not need to be physically present.

 

You can find information about grab and go meals from schools here: https://cnp.doe.louisiana.gov/ServingSites/.

If you’re in Baton Rouge, you can get more information at https://www.brla.gov/2163/Free-Meal-Pickup-Sites-for-Children

If you’re in New Orleans, you can get more information at https://ready.nola.gov/home/#food

To find more Grab and Go locations, call 211.

 

WIC

WIC supports pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, infants, and children (under 5 years old). WIC provides a card to buy specific nutritious foods, nutrition information, breastfeeding promotion, breastfeeding support and referrals to other health and social services.

 

Most WIC clinics are still open. Due to current COVID-19 precautions, LA WIC clinics are allowing participants and/or caregivers to stay in their vehicles for appointments. Your information will be collected over the phone and a member of the staff will come out to your vehicle. Please bring your ID, WIC card (if you already have one), and all other required documents with you.

 

Visit http://ldh.la.gov/index.cfm/page/987 for more updated information about WIC during COVID-19.

Call 1.800.251.BABY to apply or to get more information.

 

Other Programs

During COVID-19 many local governments, nonprofit organizations, and businesses have programs to help people access the food they need. These include food pantries, other “grab and go” meal pick-up sites, and food delivery for seniors and people with disabilities.

 

Call 211 to find out about other programs that are available.

If you’re in the New Orleans or Baton Rouge regions and you need emergency food assistance, call 311.

If you’re in New Orleans, you also can visit: https://ready.nola.gov/home/#food

How much will I get in SNAP benefits? +

It depends. The amount you get is usually based on your household size, your income, and expenses. If you receive benefits for the month of April, you will get the full amount for your household size without any deductions. 

 

Everyone in Louisiana who receives SNAP benefits for March and April 2020 will get the maximum amount for their household size.

 

This includes households already receiving benefits and households newly approved for SNAP benefits. But if you only get SNAP for April, you only get this increase for April.

 

These maximum amounts are:

 

Number of People in your
SNAP Household:

 
Maximum SNAP Benefits:
1 $1 94
2 $ 355
3 $ 509
4 $ 646
5 $ 768
6 $ 921
7 $ 1048
8 $ 1164
Each additional member

$ 146 extra per person

 

If you already have SNAP, the additional amount (also called supplement) for March was automatically added to your SNAP card.

 

For example, for a household of 8 that usually gets $300 in SNAP benefits each month: The maximum benefit for a family of 8 is $1164. The difference ($1164 minus $300 = $864) is the supplement. The supplement ($864) has been or will be automatically added to the household’s SNAP card.

 

For a 1-person household who usually gets $50 in SNAP benefits each month: The maximum benefit for a 1-person household is $194. The difference ($194 minus $50 = $144) is the supplement. The supplement ($144) has been or will be automatically added to their SNAP card.

 

Households certified in April will automatically get the amounts listed above instead of a smaller regular SNAP benefit amount.

 

What if DCFS denies my application or cuts off my benefits? +

You have a right to appeal DCFS’s decision. You can request a SNAP fair hearing by phone or in writing to your caseworker. Include your Name and Case/CAFÉ number (or SSN if case number is unknown) on your document.

 

  • Call 1-888-524-3578, then select 1-3-1-5-1; or
  • Send your request in writing to:

DCFS Economic Stability

P.O. Box 260031

Baton Rouge, LA 70826

By Fax:  225-663-3164

 

If DCFS denies your application, reduces, or cuts off your benefits and you disagree with DCFS’s decision, you can apply for free legal help.

⭐ I already receive SNAP benefits. What do I need to know about changes DCFS made in response to COVID-19? +

  • Households receiving SNAP in March and April 2020 will receive the maximum amount they can receive, based on their household size, without any reduction based on their income. See above for more details.
  • If you normally would have to do a simplified report now, the deadline for those reports has been suspended.
  • If your recertification for SNAP was supposed to be due in April 2020 or May 2020, those deadlines have been extended. DCFS has not finalized the new deadline yet. You should receive a notice about the new deadline from DCFS.
  • All work registration and work reporting requirements have been suspended.

What are the increased SNAP benefits for the COVID response? +

Everyone in Louisiana who receives SNAP benefits for March and April 2020 will get the maximum amount for their household size.

 

This includes households already receiving benefits and households newly approved for SNAP benefits. But if you only get SNAP for April, you only get this increase for April.

 

These maximum amounts are:

 

Number of People in your
SNAP Household:

 
Maximum SNAP Benefits:
1 $1 94
2 $ 355
3 $ 509
4 $ 646
5 $ 768
6 $ 921
7 $ 1048
8 $ 1164
Each additional member

$ 146 extra per person

 

If you already have SNAP, the additional amount (also called supplement) for March was automatically added to your SNAP card.

 

For example, for a household of 8 that usually gets $300 in SNAP benefits each month: The maximum benefit for a family of 8 is $1164. The difference ($1164 minus $300 = $864) is the supplement. The supplement ($864) has been or will be automatically added to the household’s SNAP card.

 

For a 1-person household who usually gets $50 in SNAP benefits each month: The maximum benefit for a 1-person household is $194. The difference ($194 minus $50 = $144) is the supplement. The supplement ($144) has been or will be automatically added to their SNAP card.

 

Households certified in April will automatically get the amounts listed above instead of a smaller regular SNAP benefit amount.

What do I need to do to get my increased SNAP benefits? +

You do not need to do anything. Your benefits will increase automatically. You do not need to call the agency to confirm this. It will not help, and agency lines are very busy with people trying to apply for SNAP because so many people are losing their jobs.

When will I get my extra SNAP benefits? +

Those already on SNAP received the supplement for March on their SNAP card. For April, they will receive their regular benefit amount on their regular assistance date (April 1st – 14th). Then they will receive their supplement on April 17th.

 

Households that are newly approved for SNAP benefits in April will get their regular amount first and then their supplement about a week later.

 

For more information, please see the DCFS COVID-19 Page. 

What will happen to my SNAP benefits after April 2020? +

The State of Louisiana can increase SNAP benefits for additional months if we are still in the Covid crisis. It would need to file papers with the federal government before doing so.

 

If they don’t, the amount that each household receives will be based on household income, like it was before the Covid crisis (February 2020 and earlier).

 

You can come back to this page at the end of April or in May to see if there is any news about SNAP benefit increases for May 2020 or the months after that.

 

Last Review and Update: Apr 07, 2020
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