Pennsylvania SNAP Benefits


SNAP food benefits in Pennsylvania refers to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP benefits, commonly known as food stamps benefits, help low-income families and households buy food in the state of Pennsylvania. They also help such households maintain a more nutritious diet than they would otherwise. To increase the effect of food assistance benefits Pennsylvania has set a goal to increase participation in the program from 90 percent to 98 percent by 2020. On this page, you will learn the benefits of SNAP privileges, including the many types of food you can buy under the program.

What Pennsylvania SNAP Benefits Allow You to Buy

It benefits food stamps program applicants to know what SNAP covers and does not cover. Pennsylvania SNAP food benefits cover what the name implies: food. This includes many types of food of varying degrees of nutritional value. However, food stamp benefits also allow participants to buy drinks, seeds that are capable of growing food and more. Most of the food and drinks bought with food stamps benefits must be intended for personal or household consumption. However, they may also be used to serve many types of people in need.

The food stamps program does not allow you to buy all types of food or drink. For example, SNAP benefits in Pennsylvania do not cover alcohol or some foods intended for immediate consumption. Further, you cannot use food stamps in restaurants unless you are an eligible homeless person. Program benefits also do not cover nonfood items such as cleaning supplies.

Learn more about what you can and cannot buy with food stamps in our comprehensive and free guide.

Pennsylvania Food Stamps Benefits Amounts

The benefits of the food stamps program in Pennsylvania vary depending on your family size. For example, SNAP food benefits amounts are greater for a family of 10 than a family of two. The more people in your family, the greater the amount of food stamp benefits.

The amount of your food benefits is also determined by your income. A Pennsylvania County Assistance Office (CAO) calculates your anticipated income, expenses and other life circumstances for each month before determining your SNAP amount.

Note: There is both a minimum and maximum SNAP benefit amount for all family sizes. You can find the minimum and maximum amounts available for your family size in our in-depth Pennsylvania guide.

How Long it Takes to Receive SNAP Food Benefits in Pennsylvania Once You Are Accepted Into the Program

Food assistance benefits in Pennsylvania are activated by the County Assistance Office (CAO) after you apply. The amount of time it takes for SNAP food stamps benefits to be available for your participation in the program varies. By law, if your household meets the SNAP eligibility requirements, the CAO is required to activate your program participation opportunity within 30 days of your application’s filing.

A participation opportunity for SNAP benefits means you have been issued an EBT ACCESS card, which is what you will need to pay for food and drinks with SNAP food benefits. If you do not have this card by the 29th day after you filed your application, then you should reach out to the CAO. Your course of action will be determined by whether the CAO or you are responsible for the delay. You are responsible for a delay in food assistance benefits in the following cases:

  • If you have left any step in the SNAP application process incomplete
  • If the CAO has helped or attempted to help you complete your application
  • If you have been given information from the Appointment Notice and Verification Checklist and have not provided the necessary documents within 10 days of the CAO’s request
  • If you do not keep your SNAP benefits interview appointment and do not schedule another one within the 30-day window from your application
  • If you miss more than one interview
  • If your application is denied for any of the above reasons

If your food benefits application is denied because of a delay caused by your household but you provide all necessary verification within the 30-day window, then the CAO should not ask you to reapply. Your SNAP food benefits case will be reopened using your first application. If your application is approved, then you will receive benefits after the successful completion of your interview. The CAO is responsible for a delay in food assistance benefits in the following cases:

  • If it does not help or attempt to help you complete your application
  • If it does not give you a copy of the Appointment Notice and Verification Checklist and specify any needed verification
  • If it does not help you in any other way required by law

If your food benefits approval is delayed by the CAO, then the CAO is required to take immediate action to continue the application process. You should be notified that your food stamps benefits application is pending, you should be told what action to take to finish the process and you should not have your application denied until the full process is complete. If your household is deemed eligible, then the CAO must also provide food stamp benefits to you for the period of the delay.

In some cases, you may be eligible to receive food stamp benefits faster than usual. These types of benefits are called “expedited benefits.” You may be eligible for expedited SNAP benefits if you have an extremely low amount of money currently available and do not expect to make much more the rest of the month. You may also be eligible if you are a migrant farm worker or if your projected income is not more than your living costs for the month.

What Is the Division of Family and Children Services in Pennsylvania?

The state of Pennsylvania provides services for families and children who are most in need. The division provides resources for free and reduced lunch, food stamps and temporary cash assistance for needy families. To find out if you are eligible for these services, download our comprehensive guide to review the eligibility requirements for each program.

How Can I Apply for Assistance Through the Division of Family and Children Services?

In order to be considered for the benefit programs offered by the Division of Family and Children Services, you must submit an application via an approved method. Additionally, many of the services provided by the division have eligibility requirements that you must meet to obtain benefits. Learn all about the application processes for these programs by downloading our guide.