Health and Public Benefits

SNAP (food stamps)

If you or your family need help paying for food, you may be eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also called "food stamps."

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Understanding the Basics

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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also called "food stamps," provides money to pay for food.

The money comes on an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card called the Ohio Direction Card. It’s like a debit card you can use to buy groceries at participating stores. The amount of money depends on your income and family size.

You can check your eligibility for SNAP on the website. Answer the questions to find out if you may be eligible. If one of your family members is a senior or has a disability, you may be eligible for SNAP even if your income is higher than the limit.

How to apply for SNAP

To apply for SNAP:

  • Gather your information. You need to know the Social Security numbers, birthdates, income and basic living expenses for yourself and each member of your household.
  • Submit the application. Apply online at the Ohio Benefits website or call (844) 640-6446. Make your application as complete as possible. You can also submit the application for cash, food or medical assistance form to your county’s department of Job and Family Services (JFS). Go to “Government and Community Resources” on this page to find your local JFS. Your county may have more ways to help you apply.
  • Follow up. JFS or the State of Ohio may contact you if they need more information. Check your mail and voice messages. Keep your contact information up to date. Let JFS know if you move or change your phone number.
  • Go to the interview. You may be required to attend an interview in person or on the phone.

If your family includes children, seniors or people with disabilities, you may receive SNAP benefits as long as you need them. Depending on your age and ability to work, you may have to meet the employment requirements to receive SNAP.

Staying on SNAP

To keep getting SNAP benefits, you usually have to submit regular reports, register for work and meet other requirements.

Submit Interim Reports

Most SNAP households must submit Interim Reports to show that you’re still eligible for SNAP. Interim Reports are normally required 6 months after an application or recertification for SNAP. 

Here's what you need to know:

  • Make sure your address is up-to-date with ODJFS. Make sure the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) has your current address. You can use the Ohio Benefits Self-Service Portal to check if your contact information is up-to-date and to update it if necessary.
  • Read your mail carefully. If your household needs to complete a report, you will get a notice from ODJFS in the mail that will include the report and the due date.
  • Use the self-service portal to find out when your report is due. You can use the Self-Service Portal to view your case notices. If you need help logging into your Self-Service Portal, you can call SNAP Outreach at any of these food banks for help.
    • Freestore Foodbank: 513-381-7627
    • Greater Cleveland Food Bank: 216-738-2067
    • Mid-Ohio Food Collective: 614-782-5503
    • Shared Harvest Foodbank: 513-881-9024
    • Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank: 419-242-5000 ext. 221
  • Submit your report, even if you have no changes. You can return your Interim Report by mail, in-person or through the Ohio Benefits Self-Service Portal. If you have no changes to report, you still need to turn in your report - just check the "No Changes" box. 

Note: Interim Reports were waived during the pandemic but reinstated in July 2022.

Meet your work requirements

To understand your work requirements:

  • Check your mail. Look for a SNAP work requirements notice, also known as a consolidated work notice. This paperwork explains the work requirements you must meet to get SNAP benefits.
  • Contact your case worker. If you do not receive a work notice or if you have questions about your work requirements, contact your case worker. You may need to continue following up until you reach someone.

In Ohio, SNAP work requirements fall into the following categories:

  • Work registration. This is the most common requirement. It generally means you must register for work, respond to requests about your availability to work, accept a suitable job if offered and not voluntarily leave a suitable job without good cause.
  • ABAWD requirements. If you are considered an "able-bodied adult without dependents" (ABAWD), you generally must have some combination of work and work-program hours totaling 20 hours a week, for an average total of 80 hours a month. You also may be required to participate in Employment & Training (E&T). You may be required to participate in case management services. Your county agency may assign you to a Work Experience Program (WEP) or other education and training. Your required E&T hours depend on your assignment.

Exemptions to work registration requirements

Some people do not have to meet work requirements for SNAP because of their age, disability or other characteristics. You may not have to meet work requirements if one or more of the following factors apply to you:

  • Age: 
    • Younger than 16 years old 
    • 60 or older
    • 16 or 17 years old but in school or enrolled in an employment training program at least half time
    • 16 or 17 years old but not the "assistance group name" (also known as head of the SNAP household)
  • Caring for a child under 6 or an incapacitated person:
    • Responsible for the care of a dependent child under age 6
    • Responsible for the care of an incapacitated person
  • Physically or mentally unfit for work:
    • Determined to be physically or mentally unfit for employment, either permanently or temporarily
  • Getting or applying for certain other benefits:
    • Receiving or applying for unemployment compensation benefits and complying with the requirements
    • Applying for both SSI and SNAP at the local Social Security office
    • Subject to and complying with a work requirement under Ohio Works First
  • In drug or alcohol treatment:
    • A regular participant in a drug addiction or alcoholic treatment and rehabilitation program
  • In school or training:
    • A student enrolled in a recognized school, training program or institution of higher education, when enrolled at least half time

If you already are working at least 30 hours a week or earning weekly wages at least equal to the federal minimum wage multiplied by 30 hours, you also may not need to be work-registered for SNAP.

Exemptions to ABAWD and E&T requirements

Even if you have to work-register for SNAP, you may not have to meet the additional ABAWD and E&T requirements if you meet an exemption. You may not have to meet the E&T or ABAWD requirements if one or more of the following factors apply to you:

  • Age:
    • Under 18 years old
    • Age 53 or older
  • Someone under 18 in the SNAP household:
    • A parent (natural, adoptive or step-parent) of someone under 18 in the household, or
    • Living with someone under 18 in the household
  • Veteran:
    • A veteran who served in the U.S. Armed Forces or reserves, regardless of discharge status
  • Pregnant:
    • In any stage of pregnancy
  • Experiencing homelessness:
    • Lacking a fixed and regular nighttime residence, or
    • Primary residence is a shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations
  • Young adult who aged out of foster care:
    • A person under the age of 25 who had been in foster care under the responsibility of the Public Children’s Services Agency (PCSA) and left custody of the PCSA after the age of 18

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you should not be sanctioned (or penalized) for failing to comply with an employment and training activity as a result of domestic violence, and you may be excused from the requirements. You may need to submit documentation like a police report or records from a domestic violence shelter.

Explain if you meet an exemption

If you think you qualify for an exemption to the work requirements:

  • Make your application complete and accurate. You can apply for SNAP online at the Ohio Benefits website. Make sure the information you provide is complete and correct. Provide all the information you are asked to provide.
  • Follow up at your interview. JFS may contact you if they need more information. Check your mail and voice messages. Keep your contact information up to date. Let JFS know if you move or change your phone number. Explain at your interview why you think you meet one of the exemptions to the work requirements. Provide any verification documents you are asked to provide.
  • Explain your situation at your recertification. If you have a recertification coming up, clearly explain to the person you meet with why you think you qualify for an exemption.
  • Understand the exemptions. You can find information about work registration and exemptions in the Ohio Administrative Code

If you fail to meet ABAWD requirements

  • You could lose your benefits. You generally won't be able to get SNAP benefits for more than 3 months for a 3-year period. This is called the ABAWD time limit. In some counties, the time limits are waived due to unemployment rates or lack of available jobs. Contact your county agency if you have questions about limits in your county.
  • Explain if you have "good cause." Contact your county agency as soon as possible to explain if you have good cause, or a good reason for missing some of your hours. Good cause generally includes circumstances beyond your control, such as:
    • Illness.
    • An emergency.
    • Unavailable transportation.
    • Lack of childcare for a child under 12.
  • Contact legal aid if you are at risk of losing your benefits. If you get a notice about failing to meet a requirement or losing your SNAP benefits, contact legal aid.

If you are denied SNAP benefits

If your SNAP application is denied, and you think it should be approved, contact legal aid for help

Take action if you receive a notice of termination. If you get a notice of sanction, or if you are removed from SNAP and you don’t think you should be, contact legal aid. It is especially important to get help if you have a mental or physical limitation.

Local Government and Community Resources

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