Food Stamps

South Carolina Food Stamp Program

The South Carolina food stamps program is a public benefits initiative that strives to provide low-income families with the financial means to purchase nutritious groceries. As food costs increase and wages remain the same, many individuals rely on food assistance to feed themselves and their dependents. Officially, this federal program is named the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It receives its funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which works to lessen issues relating to food insecurity throughout the country.

Each state manages its own food stamps program, even though the program is national. As a result, SNAP in South Carolina is only available to in-state residents who meet the program’s monetary and general enrollment requirements. The state’s Department of Social Services (DSS) supervises SNAP, and it ensures that different counties’ practices are in accordance with national requirements. At first glance, this program may seem complex and overwhelming to new petitioners. However, applicants who prepare their claims and understand what the DSS expects during each stage of the enrollment process should have a less stressful time applying for SNAP.

What are food stamps in South Carolina?

SNAP food benefits in South Carolina help enrollees afford delicious and nutritious grocery items. In turn, beneficiaries can use these items to prepare meals at home for their families. Claimants are able to access their food stamps benefits by using their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards. With these devices, they are able to purchase approved items at various supermarkets and smaller grocery stores. Specifically, petitioners may use SNAP funds to buy:

  • Whole and refined grains.
  • Plant products, including fruits and vegetables.
  • Animal products.

Furthermore, claimants need to remember that they are prohibited from using their SNAP benefits to buy alcohol and tobacco. Likewise, petitioners cannot use food stamps to buy pet food or pre-made meals. Failing to comply with these regulations may cause the DSS to revoke claimants’ enrollment to the program.

South Carolina Food Stamps Requirements

The South Carolina food stamps requirements that petitioners need to meet for enrollment relate to finances, in-state residency and immigration status. Financially, applicants who successfully enroll in SNAP generally earn less than 130 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Furthermore, these exact income requirements for food stamps are designed to correspond to the number of people they live with. On average, a three-person family that qualifies for SNAP generally earns less than $26,556 a year or $2,213 per month. Conversely, a single-person family may earn up to $15,684 a year or roughly $1,307 each month.

Additionally, claimants who would like to qualify for food assistance must be sure they meet the non-financial requirements. For example, food stamps eligibility requirements state that petitioners need to be South Carolina citizens. Likewise, applicants also need to be U.S. residents. However, claimants who were born abroad may qualify for SNAP if they have specific immigration documentation that permits to remain legally in the country.

How to Apply for Food Stamps in South Carolina

Petitioners who are interested in learning how to apply for food stamps in South Carolina must remember that there are several ways they may submit their petitions. If claimants have access to a reliable internet connection and a desktop computer or laptop, they can submit an online food stamps application to the DSS. Candidates may also fax or mail completed petitions to their county DSS offices. Alternatively, petitioners may also apply for food assistance by visiting their nearest DSS office and delivering their materials in person.

However, prospective candidates must remember that they do not need to file a food stamps application in SC if they are disabled and already qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). As part of the SC Combined Application Project (SCCAP), petitioners who receive SSI do not need to apply for food stamps through the DSS office.

Preparing for the South Carolina Food Stamps Interview

Petitioners must participate in a South Carolina food stamps interview with program eligibility caseworkers after they file their applications. These conversations are mandatory. However, applicants generally have the opportunity to decide if they would prefer to have their interviews take place in person or by phone.

“What do you need for a food stamps interview in SC?” is a question that may be on claimants’ minds once they have gone through the first part of the application process. The primary purpose of these interviews is to help the DSS determine if candidates meet all of the qualifications regarding what is required for food stamps. Therefore, candidates should expect to bring documentation that proves their eligibility for enrollment. Examples of items could include:

  • Proof of identification – Passport, driver’s license, Social Security card
  • Proof of SC residency – Homeownership papers, rental agreements, utility expenses
  • Proof of income – Tax records, pay stubs, letters from the claimants’ employers

How to Use the South Carolina EBT Card

With the South Carolina EBT card, SNAP enrollees have the freedom to use their program benefits at various stores throughout the country. Instead of receiving paper food stamps vouchers, beneficiaries today receive their funding each month through electronic deposits. Through this method, petitioners may have their SNAP deposits reflected immediately onto their EBT card balance as soon as their benefits become available.

Petitioners will often ask, “How long does it take to get a South Carolina EBT card?” The DSS will award these cards to claimants as soon as it approves their applications. Once petitioners have access to their funds, they may begin to make purchases.

The SC EBT card looks like a typical debit or credit card, and it functions like one, too. When petitioners are at the grocery store’s checkout counter, they must swipe their card’s magnetic strip along the point-of-sale machine’s reader. If beneficiaries have sufficient funds in their accounts, the order will be processed. Claimants should be sure to save their receipts because these papers have their remaining account balances printed at the bottom. Likewise, they may also review their EBT card balance by logging into their online accounts.

How to Appeal a South Carolina Food Stamps Denial

When the DSS issues a food stamps denial in South Carolina, it means that the department did not believe the petitioners qualified to receive funding. DSS case workers can reject petitions for a multitude of reasons. However, claimants who disagree with these rulings have 90 days to file appeals to the state and request that someone else reviews their applications.

Filing a late petition may cause the department to reject applicants’ claims entirely. Therefore, candidates who want to file an appeal need to be sure they do so within this window of opportunity. Claimants who learn that their food stamps application was denied may make their requests either verbally or in writing. However, petitioners may only make oral requests if they call the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) and speak to a certification worker or supervisor.

In order to fully initiate the food stamps appeal process, petitioners must be sure that they include along with their requests any evidence they want to submit to the state. Applicants must also decide if they would prefer an in-person or phone hearing. There is no penalty or advantage to choosing one method over the other.

How to Renew Your Food Stamps in South Carolina

SNAP enrollees are responsible for filing a South Carolina food stamps renewal form with the DSS before their benefits expire. While beneficiaries should be aware of their claims’ upcoming deadlines, the department will send letters to recipients when their renewals are due. Attached to these Notices of Expiration are applications that petitioners can fill out and return to the department to request their claim renewals. In addition to filing this document, enrollees may also renew food stamps online by accessing a digital copy of these forms on the state website.

As petitioners complete their food stamps renewal application, they must be sure to provide the department with accurate information. Many of the questions that the department asks on these renewal forms are similar to what petitioners first had to answer when they began receiving SNAP. Within these documents, enrollees should expect to provide information relating to several different topics. These include:

  • How much income their household earns.
  • Who lives in their home.
  • Any child care expenses the household has.
  • How much their rent and utilities cost.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What income do you need to have in order to be eligible for food stamps in South Carolina?

Below is a list of the maximum yearly income levels allowed in order to qualify for food stamps in South Carolina. The number on the left indicates the amount of household members per yearly income.
1 $15,444
2 $20,826
3 $26,208
4 $31,590
5 $36,972
6 $42,354
7 $47,749
8 $53,157

What can I buy with SNAP Benefits?

Food stamp benefits can ONLY be used to purchase food at participating grocery stores. Some of the typical items you are NOT allowed to buy with food stamps are alcohol, tobacco, paper goods, soap, toothpaste, detergent, cleaning products and pet food.

When will I receive my SNAP benefits?

In the State of South Carolina, you can expect to have your SNAP benefits available to you the day after your application is approved. If your SNAP benefits are ongoing, your benefits should be added to your account on the same day of the month, every month.

What do I need to do to carry over the food stamps I don’t use each month?

Any SNAP benefits that are left over at the end of the month will automatically carry over to the next month. This happens automatically and nothing needs to be done on your part. However, after 12 month of inactivity, the Department of Social Services may expunge your remaining benefits.

Helpful Links: You can visit the South Carolina food stamps website here.