You’ve just had a baby and now you need to know how to apply for WIC. Keep reading for a complete step by step guide.
Nearly 7 million people each month benefit from the United States government’s WIC program.
The program is designed to ensure that Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) have enough to eat. It also ensures that these people are getting the recommended amount of nutrients, that they receive breastfeeding education, and that pregnant/postpartum women and their children under 5 have the proper healthcare.
Do you need to know how to apply for WIC benefits?
If so, then you’ve come to the right place.
In this post, we’ll go over the WIC eligibility requirements, explain the application process, and fill you in on where you can usually go to apply for WIC.
WIC: A Brief Overview
The WIC supplemental nutrition program began in the mid-1970s and is funded by the USDA.
As of this writing, it is the third most popular nutrition assistance in the country, providing roughly half of all American infants with the food and care they need to stay healthy.
In addition to providing low-income and at-risk families with healthy foods, the program also offers nutritional education clinics around the country. It also teaches participants about other social services they may be entitled to receive.
It’s important to understand that the exact amount of funding for the WIC program is determined by Congress every year, so there is no “set” funding amount per individual.
There are over 10,000 WIC sites in the country including schools and hospitals, health departments community centers, public housing, and even mobile clinics.
Getting to Know WIC Requirements
WIC eligibility requirements can often feel a bit overwhelming when looking at them for the first time.
In order to receive WIC benefits, you must meet income, categorical, nutritional risk, and residential requirements — not just one of these four things.
Pregnant women and women who have given birth within the past 6 weeks are eligible for WIC benefits. So are those who are breastfeeding for one year after the infant’s birth. Women are also eligible for WIC support for 6 months after giving birth.
Infants (up to their first birthday) are eligible to receive WIC benefits, as are children until their 5th birthday.
You are required to be a resident of the state in which you’re applying for WIC benefits.
However, there is no “set” amount of time in which you must live in a state in order to receive WIC benefits. This means that even if you’re a new resident, as long as you can provide a proof of address, you can start receiving benefits immediately.
WIC eligibility laws state that your income level either needs to meet specific requirements or that you must currently be enrolled in certain financial assistance programs.
Your income must be at least 100% of federal guidelines for poverty. However, your current income can’t be over 185% of the current federal poverty rates.
Please click here to see a more detailed version of income requirements.
Understanding Nutritional Risk Requirements
Only a medical professional can determine whether or not you currently meet the nutritional risk requirements.
There are free WIC clinics where you can receive these evaluations. Your height, weight, and bloodwork will be analyzed to assess your risk.
You will also be eligible if you have a health condition, dietary restrictions, or anything else on the list of WIC nutritional risk criteria (these charts provide more specific information.)
What WIC Provides
So, what exactly will you receive if you’re approved for WIC benefits?
You’ll be eligible for a “food prescription” every month that included things like milk, bread, fruits/vegetables, and infant formula. You may also be eligible to enroll in cooking and breastfeeding classes.
You will also undergo health screenings, are eligible for support/counseling for drug addiction and smoking cessation, and may even be able to receive certain medications.
You may receive an EBT card with which to buy groceries, or your approved food may be delivered to you.
How to Apply for WIC Benefits
Now, let’s talk about the specifics of a WIC application, and where you can go to complete one.
Each state has a specific application process and depending on where you live, you may or may not be able to apply for WIC online.
The truth is that even if you can apply online, finding a local WIC agency to apply in-person is usually a better option. This is because you can also learn about other programs you may be eligible for, and receive onsite nutritional risk testing.
However, there is a pre-screening online test that you can complete to determine the likelihood of your WIC eligibility.
To apply in-person, find a local WIC agency (this page will help you find yours) and schedule an appointment.
Make sure you bring proof of residency, (a bill or a piece of mail) any immunization or medical records you have, and a government-issued identification. You’ll also need to provide proof of income.
You may be approved or, depending on the number of applicants in your state, placed on a waiting list.
Need More Help Providing for Your Family?
Now that you know more about how to apply for WIC benefits, we know you’re likely curious about other ways you can support your family.
Wondering how to reign in your monthly spending?
Want to learn more about additional government assistance programs you may be eligible for? Are you currently facing a serious financial hardship and considering applying for a personal loan?
Our blog can help you understand all these things and more. Bookmark our page so you don’t miss out.