You may also contact Community Assistors for assistance in completing the Nutrition Assistance application. They will explain eligibility rules and what may be required of you to participate in the program. Once your application is submitted, the Community Assistor can assist you with submitting required documents for verification (for example: pay stubs, proof of citizenship or legal resident status, etc.). Some Assistors will be available to guide you through the process, and others will provide you with access to computers, scanners, telephones, copy machines and/or fax machines that you can use for free.
Be sure to call the Assistor/Partner before visiting to make sure they offer the service you need, and if necessary make an appointment.
How do I receive Nutrition Assistance benefits?
After the eligibility interview, you will be mailed a QUEST Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card issued by Fidelity National Information Services (FIS). The card generally arrives before the eligibility notice. The EBT card works just like an ATM/debit card and can be used at most local grocery stores and stores where QUEST is accepted.
Please note that you may receive the EBT card even if you are not eligible. Keep the card in a safe place because the card is active, does not expire, and can be used if you are eligible at a later date. The first replacement card in a calendar year is free. You are charged $5 for each additional replacement card. When you and your EBT alternate card holder requests more than 4 cards within a 12-month period, you will need to answer questions before receiving a replacement card. Also, a fraud investigation may be initiated.
When are my benefits put on my card every month?
After your initial month, Nutrition Assistance benefits will be available on your EBT card according to the following schedule:
EBT Benefits Schedule.
EBT Benefits available
A – B
1st day of month
C – D
2nd day of month
E - F
3rd day of month
G - H
4th day of month
I - J
5th day of month
K - L
6th day of month
M - N
7th day of month
O - P
8th day of month
Q - R
9th day of month
S - T
10th day of month
U - V
11th day of month
W - X
12th day of month
Y - Z
13th day of month
You can check your balance by using the free and secure mobile app, ebtEDGE, available in the Apple App Store (iOS) and Google Play Store (Android).
How are benefit amounts calculated?
The following is an explanation of how the Nutrition Assistance (NA) benefit amounts are determined using Thrifty Food Plan amounts. The Thrifty Food Plan amounts are established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and must be used by all States as the basis to uniformly distribute NA benefits. All other eligibility requirements must be met before DES computes a budget to determine NA benefit amounts.
To manually calculate Nutrition Assistance benefits:
How to Calculate (effective October 1, 2023, to September 30, 2024)
Sample Calculation - For a household of five with one income (no elderly or participants with a disability)
Calculate the net monthly income. The net monthly income is the countable income before taxes less countable deductions. For a list of countable income and deductions, see the Policy Manual.
My gross monthly income from my job is $1739.33. I qualify for the following deductions:
An Earned Income deduction of $347.87 which is 20% of my gross earnings.
A Standard Deduction of $244.00.
A Housing Cost deduction of $672.00 based on my rent and utility expenses.
My total deductions of $1263.87 are subtracted from my gross income which results in a net income of $475.46.
Multiply the net monthly income by 30%
$475.46 x 0.30 = $142.64
Round the product up to the next whole dollar when it ends in $0.01 through $0.99
$142.64 rounded = $143
Using the table below, subtract the result from the Thrifty Food Plan amount for the appropriate number of Nutrition Assistance eligible household members (budgetary unit). The resulting amount is the Nutrition Assistance benefit amount.
$1,155 (from table below for a household of 5) - $143 (from step 3) = $1012 Benefit amount
When the Nutrition Assistance benefit amount is for a ONE OR TWO participant budgetary unit and is less than $23, round up to the minimum Nutrition Assistance benefit of $23.
Step does not apply to this example because the benefit amount of $1012 is greater than $23 and there are more than two participants in the budgetary unit.
NOTE: A number of NA budgetary units will be eligible for $0 benefits.
Nutrition Assistance Program Thrifty Food Plan Amounts
NA Number of Eligible Household Members (Budgetary Unit)
What can I buy with Nutrition Assistance Benefits (Benefits Usage Guidelines)?
Nutrition Assistance benefits cannot be used to pay for credit or charge accounts.
Some items that can be bought with Nutrition Assistance Benefits include:
Breads and cereals.
Food products for human consumption. Meats, fish, poultry, and dairy products.
Food products for human consumption.
Vegetable seeds, food-producing plants, roots and trees.
Infant formula; diabetic foods.
Meals prepared for and delivered or served to elderly or disabled Nutrition Assistance participants, when the organization is authorized to accept Nutrition Assistance Benefits.
In some areas, restaurants can be authorized to accept Nutrition Assistance benefits from qualified homeless, elderly, or disabled people in exchange for low-cost meals. (This program is referred to as the Restaurant Meals Program. Some restaurants include: Subway, Golden Corral, Jack in the Box, and Dominos Pizza. Not all participate, check for the EBT sign or ask a manager at the restaurant)
Some items that Nutrition Assistance benefits cannot be used to buy:
Beer, wine, liquor (alcoholic beverages).
Cigarettes or tobacco.
Non-food items such as soap, paper products, cleaning supplies and cooking utensils.
Items used for gardening such as fertilizer, peat moss and similar products.
Items that are not to be eaten by people such as laundry starch, pet foods, or seeds packaged as bird seed.
Vitamins and minerals, in any form.
All health aids, such as aspirin, cough drops or syrups, cold remedies, antacids and all prescription medicines.
The Nutrition Assistance EBT card can be used at any vendor that accepts EBT. Locations may include grocery stores, convenience stores, and some farmers markets. The cost of items that are allowed to be purchased using Nutrition Assistance are deducted from Nutrition Assistance benefits during purchase. Items that are not allowed must be paid for separately. Some restaurants that participate in the Restaurant Meals Program also accept EBT for certain people that are allowed to purchase prepared meals.
DES coordinated with Walmart, Amazon, and Aldi, to enable online Nutrition Assistance purchases. In addition, Arizona is actively working to expand the number of stores that accept EBT online in the future.
You are allowed to use your EBT card outside of Arizona. You can find Nutrition Assistance retailers by using the free and secure mobile app, ebtEDGE, available in the Apple App Store (iOS) and Google Play Store (Android).
How can I prove my eligibility to third-party organizations and resources?
A Proof of Eligibility card is available for download for Nutrition and Cash Assistance recipients in MyFamilyBenefits.azdes.gov. You can use this card to prove your eligibility for services to third-party organizations and resources.
What deductions are allowed against my income?
The following deductions are allowed for all households depending on your living situations and expenses. Learn more about allowable expense deductions by visiting our Cash and Nutrition Assistance Policy Manual at dbmefaapolicy.azdes.gov.
20% is deducted from your household’s total earned income for work-related expenses.
Farming self-employment loss deduction: Farmers are eligible to deduct their farming loss from their countable income.
A standard deduction based on your household size.
Medical Expense Deduction: Households with a member that is age 60 or older or have a disability are eligible for the medical expense deduction. The first $35 of the medical expense is disregarded. A standard medical deduction of $145 ($180 - $35) is allowed when your household medical expenses are from $35.01 to $180. If your medical expenses are more than $180, your household is eligible for the actual amount. (Effective date: 08/01/2023)
Dependent care or care for incapacitate adult deduction: Your household is eligible for the deduction if you are working, looking for work, or in school.
Child support deduction: If any member of your household is legally obligated and is paying child support for a child not living in your household.
Utility allowance: The utility expense is used in the calculation of your shelter expense deduction. Your household can claim the cost of utility expenses when billed separately from your rent or mortgage. The utility allowance is a fixed dollar amount based on the number of members in your household. The dollar value of the utility allowance is not tied to what your actual bill is. There are three different utility amounts, and the amounts are adjusted annually (Effective 10/01/23)
Standard Utility Allowance (SUA) – $318 for households with 1 to 3 members and $431 for households with 4 or more. SUA is used for households that incur heating or cooling costs. Heating sources can include central heating, space heaters, furnace, or fireplace. The utility expenses that are used to produce heat can include electricity, gas or propane, coal, wood, or oil. Cooling sources include central air conditioners, evaporative coolers, or room air conditioners.
Limited Utility Allowance (LUA) – Currently $150 for households with 1 to 3 members and $202 for households with 4 or more. LUA is used for households that incur two utility expenses but not for heating or cooling costs. Utility expenses can include electricity (non-heating or cooling), cooking gas, garbage, sewer, and trash.
Telephone Utility Allowance (TUA) – Currently $47. TUA is used for households that incur only telephone costs and do not have an obligation to pay any of the other utilities listed above.
It is important to inform DES if you incur heating or cooling costs. The application and change report have questions about utility expenses. Make sure to fill out this information accurately. DES will evaluate your household’s circumstances and ensure you are provided with the correct utility allowance.
Shelter expense deduction: This deduction is a combination of your shelter (rent or mortgage) plus your utility allowance deduction. This is not a dollar-for-dollar deduction of your shelter cost. You are eligible for this deduction if the amount is more than 50% of your household’s net income after all other deductions and allowances have been applied.
A 40% percent self-employment expense deduction is allowed if your household can verify at least one self-employment related expense.
A homeless shelter deduction is given to households that are homeless and incur a shelter expense.
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Pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other nondiscrimination laws and authorities, ADES does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. Persons that require a reasonable modification based on language or disability should submit a request as early as possible to ensure the State has an opportunity to address the modification. The process for requesting a reasonable modification can be found at Equal Opportunity and Reasonable Modification.