Montana

Assistance Programs, Local Agencies and Charities

Food  Housing  Cash Assistance  Bills  Health  Education  Employment

 

QUICK INFO BOX

  • Montana Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)  – Monthly food stamp benefits to help low-income people and families buy the food they need for good health, Call: 888-706-1535
  • Montana Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)  – Provides cash as a temporary financial assistance for eligible pregnant women and families with one or more minor dependent childrenCall: 888-706-1535
  • Montana Telephone Assistance Program (Lifeline) – Offers discounts on basic monthly service for qualified telephone customers, Call: Local telephone company
  • Montana Medicaid  – A health insurance program that provides medical and health-related services to eligible Montana residents, Call: 888-706-1535
  • Montana Healthy Montana Kids (HMK)  – Montana Children’s Health Insurance Plan offering a free or low-cost health insurance which provides coverage to eligible Montana children up to age 19, Call: 888-706-1535
  • Montana Healthy Montana Kids Plus (HMK Plus)  – Offers health coverage for eligible low-income children in Montana, Call: 888-706-1535
  • Montana Health Insurance Premium Payment (HIPP) Program  – Designed to help with costs associated with health insurance premiums for some Montana residents who have high medical expenses and who have private health insurance available, Call: 800-694-3084
  • Montana Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)  – Healthy foods, breastfeeding support, nutrition education, health care referrals, Call: 800-433-4298
  • Montana National School Lunch Program (NSLP)  Provides low-cost or free lunches to school children, Call:  888-231-9393
  • Montana Special Milk Program  – Offers milk to children in schools, childcare institutions, and eligible camps, Call: 888-231-9393
  • Montana School Breakfast Program (SBP)  Provides low-cost or free meals to school children, Call:  888-231-9393
  • Montana Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)  – Provides free meals and snacks to help low-income children in the summer months, Call: 888-231-9393
  • Montana Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)  Provides healthy meals and snacks to children and adults receiving day careCall: 888-307-9333
  • Montana Head Start  – Comprehensive child development programs serving low-income children and their familiesCall: 406-443-0620
  • Montana Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Designed to help eligible low income households pay for winter energy service, Call: 888-706-1535
  • Montana Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) – Assists households reduce energy bills by improving energy efficiency of their homes, Call: 888-706-1535
  • Montana Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP)  – Provides low-income seniors with special coupons to buy fresh, nutritious fruits, vegetables, and herbs from authorized farmers’ markets, Call: 406-444-5425
  • Montana Housing Choice Voucher Program  – Helps eligible low-income households lease privately owned rental units from participating landlords, Call: Local PHA
  • Montana Public Housing  – Provides safe, decent, and affordable rental units for eligible low-income residents., Call: Local PHA

Homeowners Assistance and Housing Programs

Montana – Making Home Affordable options

Making Home Affordable is a federal program designed to cover different homeowners’ hardships and financial situations. Under the program there are various options that can help Montana homeowners in hardship stay in their homes. Depending on the situation, Montana homeowners in hardship can apply to lower their monthly payments, lower the interest rate on their home loan or even get principal reduction in some cases.

There are foreclosure alternatives and temporarily help for unemployed homeowners as well.

Here are some of the most used options under Making Home Affordable Program:

HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) approved housing counselor can be reached at: 888-995-4673  (Hearing impaired: 877-304-9709 TTY) to help you understand your options, prepare your application, and work with your mortgage company.

 

Food Assistance Programs, Services, and Organizations in Montana

 

Montana Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or the Food Stamps Program as it is known by the public, is a federal program that provides grants to the States for purpose of reducing the hunger and malnutrition in all eligible households across the nation. SNAP helps provide healthy food to qualifying low-income families with children, elderly or disabled in each State of the USA, including Montana. Learn more about SNAP.

It is important to know that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federal entitlement program funded by U.S. Government grants. Any U.S. Citizen, even some legal alien residents will get free food assistance as long as they meet the SNAP eligibility guidelines. In other words, there is enough Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for every American that qualifies.

In Montana, the SNAP is known as Montana Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and is administered by the Human and Community Services Division (HCSD) under Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS). The Federal Government pays 100% of Montana SNAP Benefits with federal grants appropriated for SNAP. The SNAP federal grants also pay a share of the Montana SNAP administrative cost.

According to Montana Human and Community Services Division, “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) provides benefits to eligible families to supplement their food budget and increase their ability to purchase healthy foods.”

 

Who is Eligible for SNAP (Food Stamps) in Montana?

The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in Montana, like in other States, are based on limited income, limited liquid resources, household size, and other requirements, some of them specific to each State. Most eligibility rules are determined by regulations issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service.

The federal law allows States some flexibility when implementing SNAP on a State level. State agencies can adapt some of the food assistance program rules in order to meet the needs of eligible, low‐income local population.

Montana Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is designed for individuals and families with limited income resources, who compose a household, and purchase and prepare their meals together for home consumption. People living with roommates, people who are temporary unemployed, or people who are homeless can also get food stamps if they meet specific eligibility guidelines.

For the purpose of the Montana SNAP, certain people must be included in on household account even if they purchase and prepare meals separately. Husbands and wives of any household member, their children under age 22 when living together, plus children younger than 18 who are dependents of an adult household member are all considered as a part of one household formation.

In Montana anyone with limited income and resources may apply for food stamps but, in general, to qualify for Montana SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits you must meet the following basic eligibility requirements:

  • Montana Resident – must be a U.S. Citizen or a legal resident with SNAP eligible non-citizen status;
  • Work Requirement – unless exempted, each able-bodied household member who is 16 to 60 year old must be registered to work, and accept a suitable employment offer;
  • Resource Limits – no asset limits if you meet SNAP categorical eligibility, all others must have countable household assets limited to $2,250 or less ($3,250 or less for households containing a member who is disabled or 60 years of age or older);
  • Income Limits –  Income limits eligibility depends on the household size and composition. Households with no elderly or disabled individuals must meet both standard gross (130% of FPL) and net income limits. Households with elderly or disabled individuals must meet only the net income limits (100% of FPL). Gross income includes wages, salaries, commissions, dividends, child support, self-employment income, unemployment compensation, social security benefits and other.

Some Montana residents may be automatically or so called categorically eligible for Food Stamps if they already participate in other means tested assistance programs. Getting any benefits funded by federal grants from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance, tribal TANF cash assistance, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can make the applicant for SNAP benefits categorically eligible, thus bypassing the standard income eligibility and asset eligibility rules.

Under the federal SNAP regulations, States do have to assign a gross income limit of 200% of the federal poverty line (FPL) or less in order to use any federal grant funded benefit that can make Food Assistance applicants eligible. Please, contact your local Office of Public Assistance for more details on SNAP categorical eligibility.

See the table for Maximum Monthly Income (measured as percentage of federal poverty level – FPL) allowable for SNAP Benefits Eligibility in State of Montana, as per household size:

Oct. 1, 2015 through Sept. 30, 2016 USDA FNS SNAP Max Income
Household SizeGross Monthly Income
200 % of poverty level
Gross Monthly Income
130 % of poverty level
Net Monthly Income
100 % of poverty level
1$1,962$1,276$981
2$2,656$1,726$1,328
3$3,350$2,177$1,675
4$4,042$2,628$2,021
5$4,736$3,078$2,368
6$5,430$3,529$2,715
7$6,122$3,980$3,061
8$6,816$4,430$3,408
Each additional member+$694+$451+$347

Source: USDA, SNAP Income Eligibility Standards

 

Quick Eligibility Check

Use this Pre-Screening Tool to find out if you may be eligible to get Montana SNAP Benefits (Food Stamps).

The screening allows interested in getting Montana food stamps to provide some basic information and determine if they are potentially eligible for benefits.

Although you will be notified immediately on the screen if you qualify after completing the questionnaire, you still have to make an application at your local Montana HCSD office. Even if you are unsure whether you qualify you still may be eligible for SNAP Benefits and you should still apply. Human and Community Services Division is the agency in Montana that can make final determination regarding your SNAP application in this State and grant you benefits.

 

What are Maximum Montana SNAP (Food Stamps) Benefits?

If approved, the Montana SNAP benefit amounts depend on the household size and the amount of the their net income. USDA has maximum SNAP benefit limits per month per household size. Check below what are the maximum food stamp assistance monetary amounts a household can get. The dollar amounts of the food stamp benefits are called allotments.

Oct. 1, 2015 - Sept. 30, 2016 USDA Max SNAP Allotments
Household SizeMaximum Food Assistance Monthly Allotment
1$194
2$357
3$511
4$649
5$771
6$925
7$1,022
8$1,169
Each additional member$146

Source: USDA, SNAP Maximum Allotments

 

How to Apply for SNAP Benefits (Food Stamps) in Montana?

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) has one application for several assistance programs including SNAP. Using the same application form people in need can apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, Medicaid and Healthy Montana Kids Plus (HMK Plus), Medicare Savings Programs, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance, Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA), Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA) or Refugee Social Services (RSS) – including Refugee Employment & Training (RET). Applicants need to answer questions only that concern the assistance they are applying for.

More than one assistance program in an application is common practice by a lot of the States, since most of the people in need of food stamps are likely to be in need of cash, medical assistance, or in need of child care assistance.

Applicants for SNAP in State of Montana have the right to file an application in person, through an authorized representative, by fax, or by mail. Interested in getting SNAP benefits may submit the application to any Office of Public Assistance (OPA).

If you are to apply for SNAP benefits you can get the Application for Assistance from the DPHHS website or by visiting a local Office of Public Assistance.

Fill out all required information on the application and return it to the OPA. The application process includes an SNAP eligibility interview and information verification.

If you do not have all the information that is needed to complete the SNAP application, provide as much as you can – but you must include your name, social security number, and your signature for the OPA to accept it.  All required information and its verification can be provided later at the interview or upon request.

If you are not able to appear for an interview or you are unable to find someone to represent you, call your County Office of Public Assistance to schedule a phone interview.

Before decision is made an OPA worker has to verify all the paperwork and interview the applicant. Within 30 days of the interview, if eligible, you will receive a notice stating how much food assistance benefit and for how long your household is eligible for before a review of the case is due, along with reporting requirements.

The SNAP benefit amount depends on the household size and its net income – that is all countable income minus all allowable deductions.

If Montana DPHHS finds you eligible for SNAP benefits, you will be entitled to receive food stamps from the date your signed application is received.

Montana SNAP applicants also have the option to apply for benefits online using Montana Official State Website.

 

Montana SNAP Benefits Approval, Rules, Proofs Required

In addition to filing an application in State of Montana, the process to determine your SNAP eligibility includes an interview and information verification.

The Montana DPHHS has a list of example of documents and information that may be needed at the interview or to be submitted with your application which may speed up the application process.

  • Proof of Identity:
    • Driver’s license;
    • State ID card;
    • Military dependent ID card;
    • Tribal documents;
    • Federal or local government ID card;
    • Military card or draft record;
    • School ID with picture.
  • Social Security Numbers
  • Citizenship/Alien Status:
    • U.S. Passport;
    • Official Birth Certificate;
    • Certificate of Naturalization;
    • USCIS forms;
    • Alien Registration Card;
    • Certificate of Citizenship.
  • Income and Resources:
    • Pay stubs, pay envelopes, earnings statements from employers
    • Award letters for Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Unemployment Insurance benefits, Workers’ Compensation, Veterans Administration benefits, pensions, etc.
    • Child support and/or alimony stubs or payment records
    • Bank statements for checking accounts and savings accounts
    • Financial statements for certificates of deposit or stocks and bonds
    • Federal income tax returns, bookkeeping records, expense records
    • Rental income or sales contract records/ledgers
    • Life insurance and/or burial policies (Not required for SNAP)
    • Trust documents
    • Statements of loans, gifts or contributions that you have received
    • Automobile/equipment statements of loans or balance due (Not required for SNAP)
    • Vehicle registrations or titles (Not required for SNAP)
    • Printout or other documentation of IIM account activity
  • Expenses:
    • Dependent care bills and receipts
    • Medical expense bills or statements (medication, doctor bills, hospital bills, insurance premiums). Include copies of Medicare and health insurance explanation of benefits/payment statements.
    • Child support paid to a non-household member

Additional information and proof may be required depending upon your situation. In case you are not able to provide all the information during the SNAP application interview, you will be given time to provide the required proof.

Applicants for SNAP benefits in Montana should get a response within 30 days from the date they submitted their application to the OPA. When start getting food stamps benefits, households must report any changes of their situation in a set by the agency period of time in order to assure their participation in the Montana Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Under the simplified reporting option, households are required to report changes in income between certification and scheduled reporting periods when total countable income rises above 130% of the poverty level or when work hours change for able‐bodied adults without dependents.

SNAP regulations require all non‐exempt household members to comply with work requirements. Work requirements include registering for work, not voluntarily quitting a job, and accepting a suitable employment offer for all SNAP benefit recipients age 16 through 59 if they are not exempt. As per federal SNAP guidelines, individuals who fail to comply with SNAP work requirements without good cause are ineligible for program benefits and disqualified from SNAP for certain periods of time, depending on how many prior instances of non‐compliance there have been.

The law limits the SNAP benefits to 3 months in a 3-year period for all able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 through 49 without dependents, who are not working or participating in a work program for at least 20 hours each week.

As part of the SNAP federal grant assistance requirements, each State has to offer employment and training (E&T) program to its SNAP benefits recipients. Participants in such programs, where available, can get adult education, vocational training, job skills training for specific jobs, and work experience via short-term unpaid work assignments. The main goal of the work requirement is to help the SNAP benefits recipients get jobs, reduce or eliminate their dependency on the government benefits.

Individuals who reside in a county where a SNAP Employment and Training Program is available may apply and attend the program. Call  1-888-706-1535 if you want to find more about Montana Employment and Training Program offered to SNAP recipients.

 

Approved! When and How Do I Get the SNAP Benefits?

Montana Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides the benefits via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the Montana SNAP benefits are transferred to the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through an Montana EBT card – the Montana Access Card, which is issued to anyone approved for SNAP.  The Montana SNAP Benefits are deposited into the recipients accounts each month following the Benefit Issuance Schedule.

Benefits are made available over a 5 day period at 12:01AM beginning with the second calendar day of every month, based on the last digit of the SNAP eligibility system (TEAMS) case number:

TEAMS case # ends in: 0 or 1 = benefits available on the 2nd of the month
TEAMS case # ends in: 2 or 3 = benefits available on the 3rd of the month
TEAMS case # ends in: 4 or 5 = benefits available on the 4th of the month
TEAMS case # ends in: 6 or 7 = benefits available on the 5th of the month
TEAMS case # ends in: 8 or 9 = benefits available on the 6th of the month

If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or EBT Card call Montana EBT Customer Service: 866-850-1556

 

How and Where to Use the SNAP Benefits?

Montana SNAP benefits are provided via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the Montana SNAP are transferred into the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through Montana Access Cards. Households and individuals can use their EBT cards and spend the benefits like cash at any Montana grocery stores and farmers’ markets that are authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to accept SNAP (food stamp) benefits.

Check this list of Montana SNAP participating stores that are authorized to take EBT cards for purchasing of SNAP eligible food items. Eligible food items are any food to be eaten at home by people, including baby food, non-alcoholic beverages, and seasonings. Seeds and plants to grow food for your own family’s consumption are also allowed to be purchased with food stamp benefits. You cannot buy non-grocery items with food stamp benefits, such as cleaning products, pet food, paper products, alcohol, or tobacco.

 

I Need Food Assistance Now. It is an Emergency!

Some households may get Expedited Services – that is getting Food Stamp Benefits within 7 calendar days if your household has less than $150 in monthly gross income and liquid resources (cash, checking or savings accounts) of $100 or less; or your rent/mortgage and utilities are more than your household’s combined monthly income and liquid resources; or a member of your household is a migrant or seasonal farm worker. In order to get expedite assistance, if you qualify for it, provide all required information and proof as soon as possible. Call 1-888-706-1535 for more information on Montana Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.