To deter fraud and to make the use of governmental food-purchasing assistance more convenient and less conspicuous, the United States Department of Agriculture gives cards similar to debit cards to participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (often known colloquially as the food stamp program). A currency benefit amount is loaded electronically onto each individual participant's card every month. The cardholder then can use the card at any SNAP-participating vendor, such as a grocery store. When your monthly benefit is added to your SNAP card depends on the state in which you live.
Although the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federal program, the government allows each state to oversee its benefits individually. This means that every state releases benefits onto your SNAP card according to the state's own schedule. To determine exactly when your benefits will arrive, you must contact your local SNAP office or visit the USDA Food and Nutrition Service website page regarding the benefit payment schedule by state.
Case Number Payment
When you apply for SNAP benefits, the SNAP office assigns you a case number. Some states use the case number to determine when they assign your benefits. States using this method use the last one or two digits of the case number to distribute funds over a series of several days, starting with the lower digits. The day on which the payment series starts varies by state.
Social Security Number Method
Some states opt to use your Social Security number to distribute payments. The benefit of doing this is that your Social Security number always clearly identifies you, thereby assuring the SNAP office you in fact are entitled to the benefits. Usually, states that use this method use just the last digit of the Social Security number to distribute funds. As with the case number method, those with lower digits get paid first, but the date on which payments starts varies by state.
Last Name Method
In some states, the SNAP office uses the first one or two letters of your last name to determine a payment schedule. Offices using this technique usually pay over thirteen days, paying two letters per day -- for example, names starting with A and B on day 1. The starting date for payments varies by state.
First of the Month
SNAP offices that do not use your name, Social Security number or case number typically put payments onto all SNAP cards on the first of the month. The advantage to doing this is that SNAP workers and recipients have a less complex payment process, as all funds are distributed at the same time.