Bridge to Benefits
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
2010

SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) is a program that helps people with lower incomes pay for nutritious food, which helps kids to grow up strong and helps adults to stay healthy. SNAP does not pay for all the food that a person or a family needs each month, just some of it.  SNAP is the name of Food Stamps in North Dakota. We don’t call the program “Food Stamps” anymore because you don’t get stamps to buy food. You get a debit card.


  1. What is SNAP?
  2. Is SNAP the same as Food Stamps?
  3. How does SNAP work?
  4. If I get SNAP, how many benefit dollars will I get each month on my card?
  5. Who can get help from SNAP?
  6. Does it matter how long I have lived in North Dakota?
  7. Is there a more accurate way to determine my possible eligibility?
  8. How do I get an application for SNAP?
  9. What is the application like?
  10. Do I have to go in person to apply?
  11. What else do I have to do to apply?
  12. How soon will I be able to get on the program?
  13. What do I have to do to stay on the program?
  14. Is there a limit to how long I can get SNAP?
  15. Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to get SNAP?
  16. Can undocumented immigrants get SNAP?
  17. I am an immigrant. If I get SNAP, will I be a public charge?
  18. Will a lien be placed upon my home if I get SNAP?
  19. Is there an asset test for SNAP?

1. What is SNAP?
It is a program that helps people with lower incomes pay for nutritious food, which helps kids to grow up strong and helps adults to stay healthy. SNAP does not pay for all the food that a person or a family needs each month, just some of it.

The SNAP program is administered by the North Dakota Department of Human Services  but eligibility and case management is done by county social service offices.

2. Is SNAP the same as Food Stamps?
SNAP is the name of Food Stamps in North Dakota. We don’t call the program “Food Stamps” anymore because you don’t get stamps to buy food. You get a debit card called an Electronic Benefits Transfer Card or EBT Card. As of October 1, 2008, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the new name for the federal Food Stamp Program.

3. How does SNAP work?
Once you get SNAP, you will get a plastic card that looks like a credit or debit card. It is called your EBT card. Every month, benefits will be placed in your EBT account for you to buy food at places that accept SNAP, such as grocery stores.  When you get to the check-out line, you swipe your card and then enter a code number that you have chosen (called a PIN or Personal Identification Number).  The PIN helps keep your benefits safe if you lose your card.  The cost of your food will be subtracted from the amount of benefits in your EBT account.  You can use your card to buy groceries or plants and seeds to grow food.  Seniors can also use their cards at some Meals on Wheels and congregate dining sites.  You cannot use your card to buy prepared hot foods for immediate consumption or non-food items such as pet food, soap, alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, paper products, vitamins, medicine or clothes.  Also, you cannot use the card to get cash.

4. If I get SNAP, how many benefit dollars will I get each month on my card?
It depends on your income, expenses, and the number of people who live with you. The average monthly benefit amount in North Dakota is $286.  If you have more people in your family, you will get more benefits to buy food. The minimum  monthly benefit is $16.

5. Who can get help from SNAP?
Lots of people, including single adults, families and seniors. For most people, it depends on how much money you make (your income) and certain expenses.  

6. Does it matter how long I have lived in North Dakota?
No. This doesn’t matter. You can get SNAP even if you just came to North Dakota. You can also get SNAP even if you don’t plan to stay in North Dakota for a long time.

7. Is there a more accurate way to determine my possible eligibility?
You may also want to try the Food Stamp Calculator  to see if you might  be eligible for SNAP.  It asks additional questions about your shelter costs, which are used to determine your eligibility.

8. How do I get an application for SNAP?
The application is called the Application for Assistance.  You can get one at your county social services office or you can access an application by clicking on its name in the previous sentence. You may complete an online application which will be electronically sent to your county social service office, who will determine your qualification for programs.

9. What is the application like?
The application is about 16 pages long. It will ask you about everyone who lives with you, how much money they make, and about household expenses. If you want, you can use this same application to apply for cash assistance (TANF), child care assistance, or health care coverage. Fill it out and then bring it to the county social services office to apply or you may complete an online application which will be electronically sent to your county social service office, who will determine your qualification for programs. 

10. Do I have to go in person to apply?
 After you turn in your application, you will have to do an interview with a county social services worker. It may not happen on the same day. If you cannot get to an interview, you can send a friend or relative to apply for you, or you can ask to be interviewed over the phone.

11. What else do I have to do to apply?
During your interview, you will have to bring proof of your income (such as check stubs) and your expenses. When you turn in your application, you will learn what you need to bring to your interview.

12. How soon will I be able to get on the program?
It depends. Some households may get help within seven days, depending on their circumstances.  For most people, you will find out in within a month from the day you turn in your application.

13. What do I have to do to stay on the program?
You have to report if your gross monthly income exceeds the gross income limit for your household size to the county  social services office by the 10th day of the following month. This will be explained to you during the interview. You will also need to complete a recertification every six months. 

14. Is there a limit to how long I can get SNAP?
No.

15. Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to get SNAP?
No. You must be a U.S. citizen or have an acceptable immigration status. However, if only some people in your household have acceptable immigration status, you can apply just for them. Most people will need a Social Security Number (or proof of application if the number is pending) to apply. There are exceptions to this rule. If you are under age 18 or over age 49, or have been a lawful U.S. resident for more than 5 years, or are a refugee, you do NOT need a Social Security Number to apply.

16. Can undocumented immigrants get SNAP?
Undocumented immigrants cannot get SNAP. But if some people in your family can get SNAP, but others cannot, you can apply just for those people who qualify. If you are undocumented, but your children were born in the U.S., you can get SNAP for your children. The county social services worker cannot tell USCIS (INS) about you or other people living with you. You do not have to tell the county social services worker about the immigration status of people that you are not applying for, but you have to tell how many people live with you and how much money they make.

17. I am an immigrant. If I get SNAP, will I be a public charge?
No. Getting SNAP does not mean you are a public charge. You can still become a U.S. citizen if you get SNAP.

18. Will a lien be placed upon my home if I get SNAP?
No.

19. Is there an asset test for SNAP?
Yes. Household resources or assets must be less than $2,000 ($3,250 for households that include a member age 60 or over or a disabled household member). Households in which all members are receiving TANF, tribal TANF, or SSI are not subject to a asset limit.