504.1 General Policy

 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Hurricanes Irma and Maria Guidance; PFS 18760-504 (Published December 4, 2017)

SNAP Eligibility for Puerto Rico Evacuees; PFS 18713-504 (Published October 16, 2017)

 e-Signatures and Community Partners; PFS-17644-503 (Revised August 6, 2015)


The application process starts when a household files an identifiable application in the correct CAO. The CAO must accept and process any identifiable application that has all of the following information:

7 CFR § 273.2(c)(1)

The application form may be filed by any of the following methods:

The application may be filed by anyone, whether or not that person is applying for benefits.

The CAO must date-stamp the application on the day of receipt and authorize SNAP benefits retroactively to the application date if the household is eligible in the application month.

If the CAO learns during an interview for cash assistance that the household wants to apply for SNAP benefits, the CAO may use the same application to decide whether the household is eligible for SNAP benefits.

The eligibility date depends on when the CAO became aware of the household’s request.

If the applicant applied only for Medical Assistance using a PA 600CH, PA 600M, or COMPASS, he or she must turn in a second application for SNAP benefits. The date of the second application is the application date.

A new application is not required if a SNAP application is denied or SNAP benefits close and the household reapplies within 30 days of the denial or closing, see Chapter 579. If the household submits a new application, the CAO must review it for expedited service.

504.11 Who May Apply

The following persons may apply:

A responsible member of the household must prepare or review the application even when an AR submits the application and does the interview. The CAO must give the household a toll-free telephone number or a number that accepts collect calls so that the household can get help with the form and ask questions. The CAO must explain that the household is responsible for any incorrect information the AR gives.

504.12 The Application Process

For the CAO to decide on eligibility, a household must:

7 CFR § 273.2(d)(1)

 7 CFR § 273.2(d)(1)


The e-Signature

The following rules apply when an e-Signature is used:


CAO Duties

The CAO will take the following actions:   

 7 CFR § 273.2(i)(2)

7 CFR § 273.2(c)(5)

7 CFR § 273.2(f)(5)(i) and 7 CFR § 273.2(e)

504.121 Household Cooperation

The CAO must reject an application if the household is able to take actions required to complete the application but refuses to do so.  

 7 CFR § 273.2(d)(1)

The CAO must not deny an application if the household merely failed to cooperate rather than refused to cooperate. For example, to be denied for refusal to cooperate, a household must refuse to be interviewed, not merely fail to appear for the interview.

NOTE:  Once it is denied SNAP benefits for refusing to cooperate, a household may reapply, but it is not eligible until it cooperates.

The CAO must not find the household ineligible when a person outside the household fails to cooperate with a request for verification. Persons who live in the home but are not household members or are ineligible members are not considered as "outside the household." Examples of such persons include:

504.122 Cooperation with Quality Control Reviews

Every household must cooperate with state and federal quality control (QC) reviews. A household that does not cooperate with QC reviews is ineligible for SNAP benefits.

  7 CFR § 273.2(d)(2)

QC must give the CAO written notice that the household did not cooperate. The CAO must then notify the household of the proposed end of benefits using an Advance Notice of Adverse Action.

If the household cooperates with the QC review after it receives the notice, either before or after benefits stop, there is no penalty period.

If the household does not cooperate, there is a time penalty before the household may be eligible to participate again.

State quality control

For state QC, the household is ineligible through the remainder of the current annual review period (October 1 through September 30) and until January 4 of the following calendar year.


Federal quality control

For federal QC, the household is ineligible through the rest of the current annual review period (October 1 to September 30) and until May 1 of the following calendar year.


If a household’s benefits are ended for refusal to cooperate, the household may reapply, but it may not be found eligible until the household cooperates with the QC reviewer or the penalty period ends.

In cases where the household refused to cooperate and there was a penalty period, the household must verify all factors of eligibility before it is eligible to participate.

  7 CFR § 273.2(f)(1)(ix)

504.13 Withdrawal of Application

A household may voluntarily withdraw its application anytime prior to the eligibility determination.  If the household indicates they no longer wish to pursue the bene fit the CAO must take the following actions:                              

 7 CFR § 273.2(c)(6)

NOTE:  The PA 1829 is preferred but a written statement from the applicant is sufficient if the following items are included:

Do not use reason code 063 if the household is determined ineligible for other reasons. For example, if the household is over the income  limit, process the case with the stated or verified income to initiate sending a proper notice.

504.14 Month of Application

The month of application for all households turning in a first-time application is the calendar month in which the household filed its application.  

 7 CFR § 273.10(a)(1)(i)

Usually, the month of application is the first month of the household’s first certification period. The CAO must decide if the household is eligible during the month of application based on circumstances for the entire calendar month, even if the household filed its application on the last day of that calendar month.

 7 CFR § 273.10(a)(1)(ii)

The CAO must prorate the benefits for the month of application using the number of days remaining from the date of application to the end of the month.

Migrant or seasonal farm workers are an exception and may receive a full opening month's benefit if they participated in the SNAP program in another county or state within 30 days before the date of application.

  7 CFR § 273.10(a)(1)(ii)

504.15 Eligibility Criteria

The CAO must use SNAP eligibility criteria to decide whether a household applying for benefits is eligible and the amount they can get. The CAO must decide eligibility based on the following:  

 7 CFR § 273.2(f)

504.16 Inquiries

An inquiry is a face-to-face, written, or telephone request by a person for information only, not for benefits.  

 7 CFR § 273.2(c)

When an inquiry is made, the CAO must take the following actions:

 7 CFR § 273.2(c)(3)

The CAO must put up signs in offices explaining the processing standards and the right to file an application on the day the household first contacts the CAO.

  7 CFR § 273.2(c)(4)

504.161 Telephone inquiries

When it gets an inquiry by telephone, the CAO must take the following actions:

7 CFR § 273.2(c)(2)(i)

504.162 Written inquiries

The CAO must mail the application and related forms, including information on expedited SNAP benefits, on the day of the inquiry.

504.163 In-person inquiries

When a person asks about SNAP benefits at the CAO, the CAO must take the following actions:

504.164 Inquiries by persons who speak little or no English

The CAO must provide appropriate language assistance, such as bilingual staff, interpreters, and written translations.

Updated December 4, 2017, replacing June 14, 2016