Yay for food stamps! Well, sort of….

Me: “Great news! I got food stamps!”

*pause*

Me: “Isn’t that great?”

Her: “Um, sure?”

A few years ago I wouldn’t have been excited for food stamps. But things change. They change and we have to go with the flow, and the flow leads me to be thrilled about getting food stamps!

My family and friends are trying to be supportive, but they see this as a bad thing. Let’s face it, there’s a certain stigma that goes along with food stamp benefits. My mother immediately said, “You aren’t posting this on Facebook, are you? Because people can be funny about these things.” That was her nice way of saying, “People can be assholes about someone getting the benefits they need.” She didn’t want me to get attacked online. Many friends have been unsure how to react. Except for my friends in my chronic pain support group, that is. Many of them also have financial difficulties due to their health, so they appreciate how much of a difference this can make. But the others just don’t feel right saying “Congratulations!” for this.

Last month I wrote about missing out on thousands of dollars in benefits because I didn’t know to apply for them. I immediately signed up for Section 8 and am now on the very long (3-4 years) waiting list. I applied for fuel assistance and will find out about that in 2 more weeks. And I applied for SNAP, formerly called food stamps. I gathered papers just 2 days after my grandfather’s funeral because I had already applied and the paperwork deadline was fast approaching. I didn’t want to miss out. When I had looked into SNAP a couple years ago, when my finances first took a dive after I realized I wasn’t going to be able to return to my job, I wasn’t eligible. They had an asset limit of $2000. I had saved up more than that when I worked, so I wasn’t eligible.

Last month, when my friend told me about benefits, she mentioned SNAP. I figured it couldn’t hurt to look it up and, low and behold, they’d changed the requirements! My assets no longer counted against me! I could use those assets to pay my rent, and still apply for SNAP because of my low income. What a surprise! I wondered when that change occurred. Could I have applied a year ago? Two years ago? Wondering didn’t help, but applying would, so I filled out the application and went through the process. And then I waited.

After not leaving my apartment for a few days last week due to feeling like crap, I finally went downstairs and checked the mail. And there it was: a letter stating that I’d been approved and was now receiving benefits! I went to the grocery store the next day and used my new card – and it worked! I got a receipt that included my balance. It was all there.

I keep my grocery costs low, thankfully, and this will just about cover my monthly food bills. They back-dated the benefit to 30 days before my application, so I have that money too. I’ll use it to buy things like toilet paper and toothpaste, if those are allowed.

Can I afford all of my expenses now? No. Not even close. I’m still using my savings to pay for quite a bit. But every dollar helps. And I’m incredible thankful for these dollars. So as much as I wish I didn’t need SNAP/food stamps, as much as I wish I didn’t come close to the eligibility requirements, the truth is that I do need it, so I’m thrilled that I have it!

Do you get benefits? How do you feel about it? How to people react when/if you tell them?

Update: Do as it turns out, I can’t use my benefits for toilet paper and toothpaste. But I’m sure I’ll use them on groceries over time.

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6 Responses to Yay for food stamps! Well, sort of….

  1. wlerch says:

    FANTASTIC! I am really pleased for you, and I know that as a Canadian, things work differently here than they do for you, but here in Canada, I am glad to pay my taxes so that some of those funds can go to support and provide for people who need extra care from society – as a society we have decided that this is important (otherwise these programs wouldn’t be in place) so I don’t understand why people have “opinions” that are stupid. Those opinions would certainly change if they had “need” – don’t you think!
    As far as benefits go – I’m not “unfunctional enough” yet to qualify for disability tax credits and the like (again – Canadian stuff) – and frankly I’m ok with that as I’d like to put that aspect of this chronic illness off as long as possible, however with my diagnosis comes access to a clinic that specializes in my disease and I can and have accessed: physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social worker, and I have access to a dietician as well although I have not seen them yet. It’s all covered through our health system and I am grateful for that! So far the attitude of my friends has been – take advantage of everything you can – it’s there for your use, so use it! So – very supportive – although it’s hard for me to share their enthusiasm when I go to physio therapy and have to take a rest after a 6 minute walking test… obviously I’m glad they are there to help, but you also don’t really necessarily realize how far you need to go to “recover” until someone asks you to walk as fast as you can and you realize it’s slow.
    Thanks for your blog – I’m not on facebook, so there’s not a lot of “online support” outside of facebook that I can access. I am curious to know more about you, and wondering if we might share any “private” emails? I have no desire to invade your privacy, so if you’re not comfortable with that – I completely respect that!

    • chronicrants says:

      Thanks for your comments wlerch! It sounds like your system really works well for you – that’s great! And your friends sound wonderful and supportive, which is so important. This really caught my attention:
      “as a society we have decided that this is important”

      I’m waiting for us to come to that same conclusion in the U.S. We’re being awfully slow about realizing it!

      Feel free to email me any time! I’m at msrants at gmail dot com

  2. Lorna says:

    Yay! Congratulations!
    Every bit helps. I am grateful for any type of assistance and if other people want to be idiots about it. That is their problem. I have to focus my strength on feeling well not what others think. I have a rhino hide nowadays. lol!
    I’m glad you are accessing what is due to you now. In the UK we have so many forms to fill in with additional paper work to send in and then perhaps an interview. It tires you out just thinking about it!
    Take care xx

    • chronicrants says:

      Thanks Lorna! I’ve heard about some of the trials and tribulations you guys are facing over there these days. I hope the UK fixes that system soon! And good for you for having a “rhino hide” – I like that 🙂 I generally have one, too. I think it’s necessary for surviving the prejudice and stereotypes. Good luck with those forms!

  3. […] I got Medicare and Medicaid for health insurance, and I applied for a disabled subway pass, food stamps, section 8 housing, and fuel assistance. Last month, I had finally finished with the paperwork! At […]

  4. […] So I applied for SNAP, formerly called food stamps. A couple weeks ago I got the letter stating I’d received the benefit. I went to the grocery store and, lo and behold, food stamps covered everything I bought, just like […]

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