Food Stamps (also called “SNAP” benefits): Common Questions

Last Updated On: 2/5/2018 4:42:55 PM

This information is general; it cannot address every situation.

Can I get food stamps?

Whether you can get food stamps depends on the size of your household, your income, assets and some household expenses. The income and asset limits are determined by the federal government.  If you are working you may still be able to get food stamps.  Also, the rules to qualify for SNAP are not as strict if there is someone elderly or disabled living in your house.       

How do I apply for food stamps?

The West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources inROADS system allows you to apply online for benefits offered by the state of West Virginia.  You can also apply in person at your County’s Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) office on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  If you are very low income you can apply for emergency “expedited” food stamps on Wednesdays in person at DHHR.  Once you are approved, you can check your benefits online.  You can apply for food stamps online here.

What can I buy with food stamps?

SNAP benefits may only be used to purchase food for people and seeds and plants to grow food at home.  Food stamps cannot be used for:  household items, grooming products, tobacco, alcohol products, or pet food.

When will my SNAP benefits be available on my Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card?

Your benefits should be in your EBT account within 30 days from the date you filed your application and were approved. If you qualified for emergency benefits because your income was very low, your benefits should be in the account within 7 days from the date when you applied.

Does a balance on my food stamps EBT card carry over to the next month?

Any benefits that clients have remaining in the SNAP EBT account at the end of the month will be carried over in the next month.  However, if you have not used your EBT card at all for one year, the State will permanently remove your SNAP benefits from your account.

What is the status of my food stamp application?

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources inROADS system allows you to check your benefits information online here.

Can I check the balance of my EBT SNAP account online?

The West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources inROADS system allows you to check the balance of your EBT SNAP account here.

What are my rights in dealing with DHHR if I think they are not being fair?

You are entitled to a "Fair Hearing."  A Fair Hearing is an hearing that is held to settle disagreements between DHHR and families receiving some kind of benefit, such as food stamps, a welfare check (WV WORKS), a medical card, Emergency Assistance, School clothing voucher, or CHIP. The “judge” at the Fair Hearing is a State Administrative Hearing Officer. The officer will be a neutral decision maker.   To learn more about Fair Hearings and preparing for them, go here.

I was turned down for food stamps.  Can I do anything about that?

You can ask for a Fair Hearing if you think that DHHR made a mistake.  You should have gotten a Fair Hearing Request form with your denial letter or you can find the form here.  To learn more about Fair Hearings and preparing for them, go here.  

I got a notice that my food stamps will be reduced or cut off next month.  Is there anything I can do?

You can ask for a Fair Hearing if you think that DHHR made a mistake. You should have gotten a Fair Hearing Request form with your notice letter or you can find the form here. If you file a request for a hearing before the date that your notice says that your stamps will be reduced or cut off, you may be able to keep your benefits until after your Fair Hearing.  If DHHR changed your food stamps based on a food stamps review, a change that affects a whole group (like a Social Security cost of living increase) you will not be able to keep your benefits until the hearing.  If you win your hearing, though, DHHR will pay you back the benefits that you missed out on.   To learn more about Fair Hearings and preparing for them, go here.

My food stamps have been reduced or stopped already.  Is there anything I can do?

You can ask for a Fair Hearing up to 90 days after your food stamps were reduced or stopped if you think that DHHR made a mistake. You should have gotten a Fair Hearing Request form with your DHHR notice letter or you can find the form here.  If you win your hearing, DHHR will pay you back the benefits that you missed out on.   To learn more about Fair Hearings and preparing for them, go here.

Can non-citizens get food stamps?

You can get SNAP if you are a legal immigrant and one of these things is true:

  • You have lived in the United States for 5 years; or
  • You are receiving disability-related assistance or benefits; or
  • You are a child under 18

Certain non-citizens such as those admitted for humanitarian reasons and those admitted for permanent residence may also be able to get SNAP.

Eligible household members can get SNAP benefits even if there are other members of the household that are not eligible.  For example, if the adults in the household are not legal immigrants or they have not lived in the United States for 5 years, children or disabled people in the house can get food stamps if they are legal immigrants or citizens.

Non-citizens that are in the U.S. temporarily, such as students, are not eligible.

For more information on non-citizens and food stamps, look at the USDA website here.

Helpful Links for More Information

The West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources inROADSsystem evaluates you for possible eligibility and allows you to apply for or review benefits offered by the state of West Virginia. inROADS also provides the ability for you to check your benefits information online. Go here to access inROADS.

This is general legal information. For guidance about your situation, talk to a lawyer.