Marylanders who need assistance purchasing food can apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits with the state’s Department of Human Services (DHS). Benefits are distributed according to the same schedule every month, based on the first three letters of your last name. That’s the case in December 2022 as well.
SNAP applications can be made online at myDHR or at local departments of social services, which will give or mail you a SNAP application on the same day you ask for one. You can ask for it in person, over the phone, by mail, or someone else can get one for you. The office will accept a signed application form on the same day you turn it in, even if they cannot interview you on that day.
SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is a federal program that provides food-purchasing assistance to low-income households. Although it is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the program is administered at the state level. In Maryland, your SNAP benefits are deposited monthly onto the Maryland Independence Card, its version of the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card.
Maryland Independence Cards can be used at SNAP-approved grocery stores and retailers to purchase the following food items:
- Fruits and vegetables.
- Meat, poultry and fish.
- Dairy products.
- Breads and cereals.
- Snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages.
- Seeds and plants, which produce food for the household to eat.
Some SNAP recipients can also use the Maryland Independence Card to buy hot meals at participating locations because Maryland is among the states that participate in SNAP’s Restaurant Meals Program. The RMP allows elderly, homeless and disabled SNAP recipients to use their SNAP benefits for prepared or hot food from participating restaurants and delis.
In addition, the card can be used to make online purchases on food items that have a “SNAP EBT eligible” label. Participating stores include Amazon, ShopRite, Walmart, Food Lion, Giant of Maryland, Martin’s, Aldi, Weis and Safeway. Delivery fees and any other associated fees must be paid using a different payment method.
Among the items you can’t buy with SNAP benefits are alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, vitamins, medicines, supplements, live animals, pet foods, cleaning supplies, paper products and cosmetics.
How To Score EBT Discounts
SNAP benefits in Maryland and elsewhere also come with perks that go beyond purchasing food — including discounts on certain products and services. Here’s a quick look at money-saving opportunities your EBT card provides:
- Amazon Prime discount: Recipients of SNAP and SNAP EBT Cash benefits (or Medicaid benefits) can qualify to save 50% off their Prime memberships. To see if you qualify, visit amazon.com/prime/qualify.
- Museum discounts: Those receiving SNAP benefits can get free or reduced admission to more than 850 museum and arts groups throughout the U.S., including through the Museums for All program. According to the Food Stamps Now website, participating museums in Maryland include the Miller House Museum in Hagerstown, the Jewish Museum of Maryland in Baltimore, the Chesapeake Children’s Museum in Annapolis, and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels.
- Farmer’s markets: You can also use your SNAP EBT card at participating farmers’ markets to purchase fresh produce. The USDA’s Food Nutrition Service provides a monthly list of the names and locations of markets across the country that are currently authorized to accept SNAP benefits.
- Lifeline Program: If you are a SNAP recipient and your income is below a certain level, you might qualify for free or low-cost landline or cell phone service through the Federal Lifeline Program. You might also get discounted internet service. Consult with your provider to see if it offers the program.
SNAP eligibility in Maryland is determined by household income and other criteria. To qualify, able-bodied adults between 16 and 60 years of age must register for work, accept an offer of suitable work and take part in an employment and training program when referred to one by the local department of social services.
If your household passes SNAP eligibility tests, your monthly benefit amount will depend on the number of people in your household and how much monthly income is left after certain expenses are subtracted.
SNAP benefits in Maryland are sent out from the 4th to the 23rd of the month. Here is the schedule for December 2022:
|First three letters of last name are between:||Benefits available:|
|AAA and BAO||Dec. 4|
|BAP and BQZ||Dec. 5|
|BRA and CAQ||Dec. 6|
|CAR and COQ||Dec. 7|
|COR and DIZ||Dec. 8|
|DJA and FIS||Dec. 9|
|FIT and GON||Dec. 10|
|GOO and HAX||Dec. 11|
|HAY and JAB||Dec. 12|
|JAC and KIM||Dec. 13|
|KIN and LOX||Dec. 14|
|LOY and MCO||Dec. 15|
|MCP and NEF||Dec. 16|
|NEG and PGZ||Dec. 17|
|PHA and RIC||Dec. 18|
|RID and SDZ||Dec. 19|
|SEA and STC||Dec. 20|
|STD and TRA||Dec. 21|
|TRB and WES||Dec. 22|
|WET and ZZZ||Dec. 23|
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