Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs about NC Food Stamps - FNS - SNAP

What can I buy?
Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) can be used to buy food items at most grocery stores and some farmers’ markets.  FNS can also be used to buy seeds to grow fruits and vegetables.  FNS cannot be used to buy tobacco, pet food, paper products, soap products, or alcohol.

How do I use the EBT card?
The “Electronic Benefits Transfer” (EBT) card is like a debit card and is now used instead of paper food stamps.  FNS benefits are put onto the EBT card each month.  The EBT card is swiped at the checkout.

How soon will I start getting my benefits?
If you are able to get FNS, you should get your EBT card within 30 calendar days of returning your application to your local Department of Social Services (DSS) office.  Households that are able to get emergency benefits should get their EBT card within 7 calendar days of returning their application.

How do I get emergency benefits?
A household may be able to get emergency benefits if:

  • Gross monthly income (income before taxes and other subtractions) of the household is less than $150/month and the household’s cash or money in the bank is less than $100,

OR

  • Rent/mortgage and utilities is more than the household’s gross monthly income and cash or money in the bank,

OR

  • At least one member of the household is a seasonal/migrant farmworker

What if I do not use all of my benefits each month?
Benefits not used by the end of the month can be used the next month.  Benefits not used for 12 months will expire.

Do I need a Social Security number?
Yes.  Everyone in your household must have or apply for a Social Security number to get FNS.  People in your household who do not want to get FNS do not have to give their Social Security number.  They will still be asked to give their income and other information.  People in your household who do not have a Social Security number will also be asked to give their income information.

I was not born in the United States.  Am I able to get FNS?
Maybe.  Some immigrants must live in the United States for a certain amount of time before getting FNS.  Click here to learn more.  Even if you or someone else in your household cannot get FNS, other household members born in this country may be able to.

I do not have an address.  Can I apply for FNS?
Yes.  The DSS office will still need an address where mail can be sent to you.  This could be a shelter, church, friend’s house, or other address where you can get mail.

I work.  Can I apply for FNS?
Yes.  If your household meets the income limits, you may be able to get FNS.

I am not working.  Can I apply for FNS?
Yes.  If your household meets the income limits, you may be able to get FNS.

I own a home, car, land, and/or property.  Can I apply for FNS?
Yes.  You may be able to get FNS even if you own a home, car, land, and/or property.  North Carolina no longer uses the resource limit test for most households.  The DSS office will tell you if your household has to meet a resource limit test.

I have a retirement plan and/or money in the bank.  Can I apply for FNS?
Yes.  You may be able to get FNS even if you have a retirement account and/or money in the bank.  North Carolina no longer uses the resource limit test for most households.  The DSS office will tell you if your household has to meet a resource limit test.

What if I cannot go to the interview at the DSS office?
Ask to do the interview by phone.  You can also ask the DSS office if the interview could be on a different day or at a different time.  You can also send an authorized representative to the interview.  An authorized representative is someone you know and trust to help you.

I applied for FNS and was told I was not able to get benefits.  What if I do not agree with the decision?
If you believe the decision was wrong, please call your county’s DSS office and ask for a fair hearing trial.  You can also call Legal Aid.

Who do I call if I have other questions?
Call your county’s DSS office.  Click here to find the phone number for your county’s DSS office.  You can also call 1-866-719-0141.

What should I do if I need help with food while I wait to hear back from the DSS office?
Call your local food bank.  To find the food bank that works in your county, click here.

 

 

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