Food Stamps in Florida (Also called SNAP or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

Authored By: Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida

FAQ

Purpose

The purpose of the Food Stamp Program is to help low-income people buy nutritious food. The amount of Food Stamps you can receive is based on your household size, income and assets. Food Stamps can be used to buy food but cannot be used to buy alcohol, pet food, soap, toothpaste, toilet paper or hot food from a store’s deli.

You Have the Right to Get Your Food Stamps Within 30 Days of Filing Your Application

File your application the SAME DAY you go to your local Department of Children and Families (DCF) or community based organization (CBO) office. A community based organization is a private organization or church that may be closer to you and that can assist you with applying for Food Stamps.

If your family includes someone who is ineligible for Food Stamps because of immigration status, the rest of your family can apply for Food Stamps without including that individual.

If you have little or no income, ask for "EXPEDITED SERVICE."DCF has seven (7) calendar days to get you “emergency” Food Stamps if you qualify. The seven-day period begins from the date you apply. 

What to do if your stamps are reduced or cut off

  • You have the right to appeal a notice from DCF. You have 90 days to request a fair hearing
  • You have the right to continue getting the same amount of Food Stamps IF you file an appeal within ten (10) days of the DCF notice stating there will be a reduction or termination of your Food Stamps. You have 10 days from the date on the notice to file your appeal 
  • Put your request for a fair hearing appeal in writing and keep a copy. You should immediately contact your local legal services office for assistance with the fair hearing
  • DO NOT SIGN A WAIVER FOR ANY REASON UNLESS ANATTORNEY OR PARALEGAL ADVISES YOU TO DO SO

When You Are Recertified

  • You should keep getting Food Stamps on time IF you file your recertification application by the 15th of the last month your Food Stamps are scheduled to end.
  • If you have trouble getting the required verification, notify DCF your caseworker.

Contact your local legal services office if you continue to have problems. 

Tip

  • If you have trouble getting the required verification of household size, income, or assets, submit a written request to DCF for help. If DCF is unable to assist you, contact your local legal services office for help with verification.
  • Keep a copy of any documents you submit to DCF and note the date on it to verify that you submitted those documents in a timely manner. Keep a copy of the verification you submit for your own records.

Changes in 2016

On January 1, 2016, Florida will implement new time limits for Able-Bodied Adults withoutDependents (ABAWDs). ABAWDs are adults ages 18 through 49 who

  1. are not working or in a job training program at least 20 hours a week;
  2. are not physically and mentally unable to work; and,
  3. are not responsible for a dependent child in the household.

Even though Florida's high unemployment rate qualifies it to waive time limits in many areas of the state, the Florida Legislature passed legislation in the 2015 special session that prohibits DCF from seeking those waivers without the Legislature's permission, which it has not given. Most at risk are Floridians who already have limited job opportunities, such as the homeless and persons with limited education, language barriers, or criminal histories.

Updated: May 4, 2017 

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