Ohio Family Assistance Services FAQs

This list provides answers to frequently asked questions about cash and food assistance programs in Ohio. For comprehensive information about family assistance programs in Ohio, download our free guide.

  1. What do Ohio TANF benefits pay for?

    Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in Ohio pays for basic needs such as housing, utilities, food and clothing.

  2. Can relatives raising the children of other family members receive TANF in Ohio?

    Yes. This most often applies to grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, but it can apply to other relatives as well. Relatives who are raising the children of other family members can apply for TANF benefits on behalf of the children. In some cases, the grandparent or relative raising the children might be eligible for a one-time TANF payment if their income meets eligibility guidelines.

  3. Can Ohio residents who received TANF in the past reapply?

    It depends. TANF recipients can only collect TANF benefits for a total of 60 months (five years) during their lifetime. Recipients who stopped receiving benefits before the five-year time limit can reapply, but will only receive TANF benefits for the rest of the 60 months that remain.

  4. Do single Ohio parents on TANF have to collect child support?

    Yes. According to federal law, every TANF recipient who is a single parent must open a child support case if they do not already have one. TANF recipients assign their rights to receive child support over to the TANF child support program. This money is used to pay some or all of the TANF and other public assistance benefits received from the state of Ohio.

  5. Are there other food assistance programs available for SNAP recipients in Ohio?

    Ohio SNAP recipients are also eligible to receive food from The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Children of SNAP recipients may also qualify for free or discounted school meals.

  6. What is the Ohio Direction Card?

    The Ohio Direction Card is like an ATM or debit card. It is colored blue and silver, and it has the recipient’s name and a 16-digit card number embossed on it. Each SNAP recipient receives an Ohio Direction Card and a four-digit PIN, which must be entered for each purchase.

  7. Which stores in Ohio accept food stamps?

    Ohio SNAP recipients can most likely use their Ohio Direction Card in the stores where they currently shop. Stores in Ohio that accept SNAP benefits have a sign on their door that looks like the Ohio Direction Card.

  8. When do Ohio residents receive SNAP benefits?

    SNAP benefits are available through the Ohio Direction Card on the same day of each month (even on weekends and holidays), which can be different for each recipient. Ohio residents should check with their county office to see which day of the month their benefits become available.

  9. What should Ohio SNAP recipients do if they forget their PIN?

    Ohio SNAP recipients can call 1-866-386-3071 to select a new PIN. This is also a good number to call for Ohio Direction Cards that have been locked because of too many wrong PIN entries.

  10. Can families moving from another state still receive free or reduced-price lunch in Ohio?

    Yes. The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) are federal programs. Families who have recently moved to Ohio may have to reapply through their children’s school.

  11. Can homeless children in Ohio qualify for free or reduced lunch?

    Yes, children who meet the definition of homeless, migrant or runaway meet the eligibility requirements for the NSLP and SBP. In general, to qualify as homeless, families must lack a permanent address, which includes staying in a temporary housing arrangement such as a shelter or hotel. Families are considered migrant if they change their residence on a seasonal basis. Children who have chosen to leave their previous family are considered runaways.

  12. How do children get meals during the summer in Ohio with the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)?

    If children are located in a low-income area that has an open site such as a community center that is an SFSP sponsor, then they can get free meals without having to apply or register. Low-income families whose children are attending a summer program or camp that offer the SFSP might have to apply for free or reduced-price meals through the program.

  13. Do Ohio residents who already received a letter saying they qualify for the National School Lunch Program have to complete an application anyway?

    Some Ohio residents automatically qualify for the NSLP or SBP because they are receiving SNAP or TANF benefits. If they receive a letter indicating they are eligible for the NSLP, then they are not required to fill out an application at their school.

  14. How should applicants for the free or reduced-price lunch program in Ohio report their income if it changes from month to month?

    In this case, applicants should provide the amount they normally receive. If an applicant normally receives $1,000 in income each month but only made $900 one month, they need to list $1,000 as their income. If the applicant normally makes money from overtime, he or she should include it. Applicants should not include overtime pay if they only get overtime occasionally.

  15. Where can Ohio residents get TEFAP food?

    The Emergency Food Assistance Program in Ohio distributes food through shelters, soup kitchens and food banks in Ohio.

  16. What other food programs are available to seniors in Ohio?

    In addition to SNAP and TEFAP, eligible seniors can participate in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) in Ohio. Seniors must be 60 years of age or older, and their income must be at or less than a certain percentage of the federal poverty level.

  17. What does WIC provide in Ohio?

    The Women, Infants and Children program provides vouchers for nutritious foods such as milk, fruits and vegetables, whole grain foods, eggs and iron-fortified infant formula. WIC also provides referrals to prenatal health care and pediatric doctors, as well as breastfeeding and nutrition education.

  18. What type of claim should Ohio veterans file for disability?

    Veterans can file many types of claims to apply for veterans’ disability benefits. Disabled veterans who are still on active duty should file a pre-discharge claim 180 days before leaving the military. Disabled veterans should file the appropriate claim for pre-service, in-service or post-service disabilities. There are also claims that are based on special circumstances.

  19. Can children of veterans receive benefits?

    A child or other survivor of a deceased veteran can receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) if the veteran’s death was caused by a disease or injury that occurred or was aggravated while the veteran was on active duty or in training.

  20. What is a VA claim exam?

    Veterans who have filed a claim for veteran disability benefits might need an examination to complete the claim process. The examiner only identifies or confirms the disabilities that are indicated in the claim and is separate from a regular medical appointment for the injury or illness.

Find out how to apply successfully to cash or food assistance programs in Ohio by reviewing the in-depth information in our guide about applications, eligibility requirements and appealing denial decisions.