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Public Benefits


  • The government makes available public benefits or assistance programs for people who need help with food, healthcare, and day-to-day expenses. To qualify for each of these benefits, you have to meet certain income, resource, health, and/or immigration status requirements. Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for healthcare, food stamps, cash assistance, low-cost housing, energy assistance, and child care assistance.
  • SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, provides monthly benefits that help low-income families buy the food they need for good health. This benefit used to be known as food stamps. For most households, SNAP benefits make up only part of their food budget so they need to use some of their own money to buy enough food to last for the month. The amount of SNAP benefits a household receives depends on the number of people in the SNAP household and the amount of their net income.
  • Households must been certain requirements to qualify for SNAP, including resource and income tests.
    • Step One:
      • Fill out an Application online at www.dcfs.la.gov
      • You can also apply for the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program (FITAP) or Kinship Care Subsidy Program (KCSP) with this application.
      • You can also download an application by visiting www.dcfs.louisiana.gov and fill it out by hand.
    • Step Two:
      • Gather the documents you will need to verify the information in your application. Verification is proof of the information that you report on your Application for Assistance. The following information must be verified by the SNAP program:
      • Identity (driver’s license, work or school ID, ID for health benefits or another social services program, voter’s registration card, check stub, or birth certificate);
      • Social Security Number (copy of the social security card or papers you received at the hospital for a newborn);
      • Alien status (if not a U.S. citizen, forms or cards from USCIS that prove the person is a legal alien);
      • Wages (last four pay check stubs or employer’s statement for each person who works);
      • Self-employment (income tax returns, sales records, quarterly tax records, personal wage record);
      • Other income (such as contributions, child support, alimony, Social Security, SSI, VA, retirement checks, Unemployment Compensation [UCB], award letters, court orders, statements from contributors);
      • Income that stopped within the last three months (pink slip, termination notice, or statement from former employer, termination notice or statement from source of any income that ended);
      • Housing expenses (rent receipts, mortgage papers, homeowners insurance papers, and property tax papers);
      • Dependent care expenses (receipts or statements from the dependent care provider);
      • Medical expenses (receipts, pharmacy printouts for last three months, doctor bills or other papers that show medical expenses for household members who are disabled or over the age of 59);
      • Child support payments made to someone outside your home (court order or other legal papers and proof that you are making payments such as canceled checks or wage withholding statements);
      • Resources (current bank statements, papers that prove ownership and value of property that you own [other than where you live], papers for any other type of resource such as stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, etc.)
    • Step Three: (for downloaded applications filled out by hand only)
      • Mail the completed form to the document processing center at: DCFS Economic Stability, P.O. Box 260031, Baton Rouge, LA 70826, Or fax the completed form to (225) 663-3164.
    • Step Four:
      • After receiving your application, a DCFS employee will call you to conduct an interview over the phone, saving you time. Please provide a valid telephone number for contact purposes.
      • Or if a face-to-face interview is requested, you may schedule an appointment with any DCFS parish office through the DCFS website at www.dcfs.la.gov.
      SNAP benefits are delivered electronically through Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. Louisiana uses magnetic strip card technology, like a credit or debit card. The card is typically referred to as the Louisiana Purchase Card.

      SNAP benefits are given to the recipient's account during the first 14 days of the month. Recipient benefits are accessible by 5.00 a.m. the morning after they are posted. Benefits are given to recipients on the same date every month regardless of the day of the week. Holidays and weekends do not affect the date of benefit availabilty. In emergency situations, benefits are available immediately.

      Benefits are secure and accessible only to persons authorized by the recipient. The Personal Identification Number (PIN) is selected by the recipient and must be correctly entered in order to successfully complete all electronic transactions. As purchases are made at grocery store checkout lanes, recipient accounts are debited and the recipient is given a receipt which provides the remaining account balance.

      You can check the balance of your EBT card online at: www.ebt.acs-inc.com.

      There are benefit restrictions on what is considered an eligible food item:

    • Households CAN use SNAP benefits to buy food for the household to eat, such as:
      • Breads and cereals;
      • Fruits and vegetables;
      • Meats, fish and poultry;
      • Dairy products; and
      • Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat.

    • Households CANNOT use SNAP benefits to buy:
      • Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco;
      • Any nonfood items, such as;
          • Pet foods;
          • Soaps, paper products and household supplies;
          • Vitamins and medicines;
          • Food that will be eaten in the store; and
          • hot foods.
      In general, food products that contain alcohol or tobacco, items that are not intended for human consumption (e.g. paper products, pet foods, etc.), vitamins and supplements, and foods sold hot at the point-of-sale, are not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.
      • SSI is a program that provides a modest monthly income to people with disabilities who have limited income and resources. To qualify for disability benefits you must be found “disabled” under Social Security’s definition. The definition of “disabled” is different for children and adults.
      • SSI Disabled Child Benefits: To be considered disabled as a child: you must have a physical or mental condition(s) that very seriously limit your activities and your medical condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least one year or be expected to result in your death.
        • If you received SSI benefits as a child, you may qualify for SSI benefits as an adult. When you turn 18, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will re-evaluate you. Benefits will continue during the re-evaluation. If the disability meets the regulations for adults, the SSI benefits will continue uninterrupted. If SSA decides that you are no longer disabled, you will no longer receive benefits. But there is a right to an appeal. If the appeal is filed within 10 days of the SSA decision, you can continue receiving benefits during the appeal process.
      • SSI Disabled Adult Benefits: To be found disabled: you must have a severe impairment; you must be unable to do substantial work because of your medical condition(s); and your medical condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least one year, or be expected to result in your death.
      • Apply immediately if you have become disabled or expect to be disabled for more than a year. The best way to file for disability benefits is online at www.ssa.gov.  You can also make an appointment with your local Social Security office and file a disability claim in person, or file via phone using the toll-free telephone number 1-800-772-1213.
        • Your application will be evaluated by a state disability agency. A decision to either award or deny benefits will be made and you will be notified in writing, by mail. It usually takes 3-4 months to get a decision.
        • If your application is denied, you can appeal. You must appeal within 60 days of receiving the denial notice.
      • FITAP provides cash assistance to families with children when the financial resources of the family are insufficient to live off of. The amount of assistance a family receives is based on family size.
      • There are several cash benefit restrictions for FITAP recipients:
        • There can be penalties if recipients use their cash benefits for the purchase of ineligible items listed above, or at an improper establishment.
        • FITAP cash benefits provided through EBT cards cannot be used at certain types of stores and establishments. These benefits are intended to meet the basic needs of families.
        • FITAP benefits cannot be used in any EBT transaction to purchase:
          • An alcoholic beverage (beer, wine, hard liquor);
          • A tobacco product (cigarettes, chewing tobacco, etc.);
          • A lottery ticket (including scratch-off tickets); or
          • Jewelry.

        • WIC is a Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, infants, and children. WIC provides nutritious foods, nutrition information, breastfeeding promotion, breastfeeding support and referrals to other health and social services.
        • If any of the following apply to you, you may qualify for WIC.
          • Pregnant;
          • Breastfeeding (up to infant’s 1st birthday);
          • Recently gave birth (up to 6 months after birth of an infant or after pregnancy ends);
          • Have an infant (up to the age of 1); or
          • Have a child under the age of 5.
        • Benefits provided by WIC include supplemental nutritious foods; nutrition education; counseling at WIC clinics; and screening and referrals to other health, welfare and social services.
        • You can applying for WIC benefits by visiting www.dhh.louisiana.gov.  You can also contact your local WIC agency to schedule an appointment.
        • Medicaid provides medical benefits and insurance to low-income individuals and families. Before you receive a service from a doctor or health care provider, you should ask your doctor or provider about limits to receiving the service or if the service needs to be “prior authorized.” Prior authorized means Medicaid has to agree to the service before it can be authorized to a patient.
        • In Louisiana, you qualify to receive Medicaid if you:
          • Receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
          • Aged out of foster care and are under 26 years old. Please note that if you aged out of care in Louisiana, but plan to move to another state, the other state is not required to provide Medicaid coverage to you.
          • Get financial help from the Office of Family Support (OFS) through the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program (FITAP).
        • You may also qualify for Medicaid coverage if you:
          • Are disabled according to the SSA’s definition.
          • Have corrected vision no better than 20/200.
          • Are a low-income parent of children under the age of 19.
          • Are pregnant.
          • Have no insurance and need treatment for breast and/or cervical cancer.
          • Receive Medicare coverage and are low-income.
        • There are several ways you can apply for Medicaid or get more information:
          • Apply or renew coverage for any Medicaid program by visiting the Louisiana Medicaid Online Application Center at http://new.dhh.louisiana.gov. Once you submit the online application, it is sent immediately to the Medicaid office for process. There is no delay for mailing or faxing a paper form.
          • Call the Medicaid hotline toll free at 1-888-342-6207 for help applying. Agents accept calls Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
          • Contact any Medicaid Application Center statewide. For a list of Medicaid Application Centers in Louisiana, visit http://new.dhh.louisiana.gov
          • Download and print a Medicaid application and then mail it to P.O. Box 91278, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-9278. You can also fax the application to 1-877-523-2987.
          • Contact your local Medicaid office for help applying. For a list of Medicaid Offices in Louisiana, visit http://new.dhh.louisiana.gov.  
        Once you turn 18, you have the sole ability to consent to medical care and treatment without having to get your parents or spouse’s permission. Even if you are married, you make your own health care decisions and your spouse does not have the right to change them. However, the court will appoint someone to make decisions for you if you are mentally disabled and the court deems you unable to make medical decisions for yourself.
        • Once you turn 18, you may be able to apply for public benefits on your own. You can also get benefits in your own name or become your own payee.
        • SSI changes when you turn 18. You can become your own payee, which means that you will receive your own Social Security check. However, you may still need a payee if the Social Security Administration believes you are not capable of managing or directing the management of your money. Also, at 18-years-old you may no longer be eligible under certain disabilities.


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