Many people have asked us, “Can you get food stamps if you are homeless?” The answer is YES – and we’re going to show you how and what you need to know to make the most of those benefits. In some places, homeless people can even buy fast food with their food stamps card!
Being homeless is hard. A lot of things that housed people take for granted are unavailable to those who are homeless. Fortunately, the food stamp program is not in that category. You can get food stamps if you are homeless.
You do not need a home or even a mailing address to get food stamps.
You can get food stamps if you don’t have an address. According to Massachusetts Legal Help, “you can get benefits if you live on the street, are staying at a homeless shelter or a shelter for victims of domestic violence.”
You can get food stamps even if you live in a shelter that provides free meals.
You can get food stamps even if you live in a homeless shelter that provides free meals or if you get meals from a local soup kitchen or meals program.
You can get food stamps even if you don’t follow the work requirements.
Homeless people with no dependents may be exempt from the work requirements for food stamps for three months or longer. It depends on your individual circumstances and your caseworker will be able to give you the details that are relevant to your situation.
You can get food stamps even if you don’t have a photo ID.
The food stamps office will ask for proof of your identity, but a photo ID is just one way to prove who you are. You can get food stamps without a photo ID, but you will need to prove your identity in other ways. This could include a written statement from the staff of a soup kitchen, detox program or homeless shelter. It could include other paperwork, such as a birth certificate or Social Security Card. You will need to work with your caseworker to get the proper information to the food stamps office.
You can use your food stamps at restaurants in some areas.
Depending on what state and county you are in, you may be able to use your food stamps to purchase meals at McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and other fast food establishments. This is done through the Restaurant Meals Program, which allows people who are unable to cook meals at home buy fast food with their EBT cards. The RMP is part of the federal food stamps law but it’s up to each state (and sometimes county) to decide whether or not to participate.
You may be entitled to the Homeless Shelter Deduction.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (that’s the formal name for food stamps) even has a special deduction for people who are homeless. It is called the Homeless Shelter Deduction. When you receive food stamps, you will want to make sure that you are receiving this deduction because it will increase the amount of food stamps that you will receive.
Food stamps do not have to be paid back.
People who ask us “Can you get food stamps if you are homeless?” often also express concern that they would eventually have to pay back the money they receive in food stamps. The food stamps program is not a loan and does not have to be paid back, as long as you are receiving the correct amount. If you provide accurate information to the food stamps office, you should never owe anything back.
You can request a hearing if you are not treated fairly.
There are many reasons that people get turned down for food stamps and not all of them are legitimate. You need to understand your rights and the law so that you can stand up for yourself if people treat you unfairly.
So, can you get food stamps if you are homeless? YES.
As we’ve already established,
- You cannot be denied food stamps just because you are homeless.
- You cannot be denied food stamps just because you don’t have a photo ID.
- You cannot be denied food stamps because you get food from a shelter, soup kitchen or meals program.
- You cannot be denied food stamps just because you don’t have a place to cook or store food.
But what if the office does deny you, or you feel like you’ve been treated unfairly? Is there anything you can do?
You will need to stand up for yourself. Ask to speak to a supervisor or file a complaint at your local office. If you feel they have made a mistake with your case, you have the right to request a hearing. During the hearing, someone who is not involved in your case will review the facts and fix any mistakes. You will need to visit the office, call the office or send a written request within 90 days of the decision to request a hearing.