How to Apply for SNAP/Food Stamps in Washington, D.C.
1. Find out if you're eligible.
Find out if you might be eligible for SNAP/Food Stamps with this Quick Food Stamp Screener (pdf), which lists income and other eligibility requirements.
You could be eligible, even if you are working, or have no children, own a home, car, or have savings, you are homeless, have no mailing address, or even if you are a college student. If you live in Maryland or Virginia, you must apply in those states, and not in D.C.
Download a SNAP/Food Stamp application from the D.C. Department of Human Services, Economic Security Administration website.
2. Gather information needed to fill out a SNAP/Food Stamp application.
The D.C. SNAP/Food Stamp application requires some information you may have to gather. Before you start filling it out, take a look at pages 4 to 6 of the form. These pages ask you for detailed information on who lives with you, household income information, housing costs, and utilities and other bills like medical and child care costs.
Although you can simply sign the application and submit it to a SNAP/Food Stamp office (see #3 below) with your name and address, you will still need to provide the information listed on the form when you meet with a caseworker.
3. Fill out the application and submit it to a SNAP/Food Stamp office.
You can submit your application to any of D.C.'s five Economic Security Administration (ESA) Service Centers. Follow this link to a list of office locations and hours. You can also call (202) 698-3900 to find your nearest office.
Expedited Food Stamps: If you have less than $150 in gross monthly income and less than $100 in resources, or if your shelter costs are higher than your gross monthly income, you could be eligible for expedited food stamps - which you can receive in less than a week. If you think you are eligible for expedited food stamps, visit your nearest office as soon as possible.
4. Meet with a caseworker.
When you turn in your application, have enough time, if possible, to wait for an interview with a caseworker. If you don't have enough time, turn in your application, and come back for an interview. At the interview, the caseworker will inform you of any missing documents and information, and will tell you about any other programs you might be eligible for. Tell the caseworker if you have problems collecting your documents and information.
What do I bring to my interview?
If you need to come back for an interview, your caseworker will tell you what documents and information to bring. These can include:
- Social Security card.
- Proof of D.C. residency (a photo ID with current address, or copy of current lease).
- Proof of income (pay stubs from your last month of work, a Social security benefit letter, or an unemployment benefit letter).
- Proof of expenses (rent or mortgage receipts, utility bills, cell phone bill, childcare bills or proof of child support payments, medical bills if you are over 60, or disabled).
5. Pick up your EBT card if you are approved.
You will receive a letter in the mail stating if you qualify and how much your benefit amount will be. You must then pick up your EBT card at one of the two EBT training centers located at 661 H Street, NE and 1649 Good Hope Rd, SE. The ESA office has 30 days to inform you if you qualify for food stamps, and 7 days for emergency food stamps. If you are approved, you will receive benefits back to the date you applied.
6. Stay up-to-date on your benefits, or they may be cancelled.
When you are approved for benefits your letter will state your certification period, which is 12 months for most households. About 5 months after you are approved, you will receive a re-certification form in the mail. Watch for the form – you must fill out and send in this form to continue your benefits. If you do not send it in, your benefits will be cancelled.
At the end of your certification period, you will have to re-apply if you wish to continue receiving SNAP/food stamp benefits.
You must also inform the ESA office of any change to the information you submitted on your application. You can fill out a change form at your assigned service center, or phone in the information by calling (202) 727-5355.
7. What if you don't get approved?
If you are denied benefits but think you are eligible, you can request a fair hearing. Page 10 of the Combined Application for benefits contains information on how to request a fair hearing and places to go for legal help in the District.