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To get WIC benefits, you have to meet the requirements. You have to submit documents, too. How long you can get WIC benefits depends on how much your family is in need, and whether your family meets the other requirements. WIC was made to help low-income women, infants and children. But any family can apply for WIC if one family member meets the requirements.
The WIC program is handled by 90 state agencies in the U.S. You will only deal with the WIC agency in your county. All 90 agencies have the same requirements for giving out WIC benefits. But different agencies give priority to different groups of people. For example, Georgia gives out WIC benefits to minors who have had babies first before they give out benefits to the other groups.
There are three categories of people who qualify for WIC: women, infants and children. You might qualify for WIC food assistance if you are a woman who:
Pregnant women don’t have to be married or have other kids to get WIC. Pregnant women and infant babies who weigh less than they should or have health issues might qualify to get their benefits earlier than other groups. Women who gave birth and are breastfeeding will get benefits earlier than women who do not want to breastfeed.
Both children and infant babies can get WIC benefits if they are the right age. Infants babies have to be 1 year old or younger. Children have to be younger than 5.
Fathers, step-parents, foster parents and legal guardians can apply for WIC, too. They can get benefits if there is a pregnant woman in the family or a child that meets the age requirement.
To get WIC benefits, you have to make less than a certain amount of money. The amount of money you can make and still get WIC benefits is based on how big your family is and how much poverty there is in the U.S. WIC income rules change every year. So double-check the income rules before you apply to see if you might qualify.
To make it easier to qualify, the government tells you to count pregnant women as two people when you are counting how many people are in your family.
To prove that you meet the income requirements, you have to have documents that show how much you make. You can show that you are getting benefits from other programs, too. If you get benefits from some programs, you might automatically get into the WIC program. Those programs include:
Learn more about WIC requirements by downloading our free guide.
It is a rule that WIC applicants have to go to a doctor’s appointment before they can get benefits. The appointment is for the doctor to see if the applicant is in trouble because of their nutrition or at “nutritional risk.”
Candidates can go to a WIC office to see a nutritionist or doctor for free. They can go to their own doctor, too. Applicants have to get medical documents from the doctor to hand in as proof that they meet the nutrition risk requirement. To get WIC benefits, the person or people in trouble because of their nutrition have to be the woman or the child.
Applicants can meet this requirement as long as they have one of the conditions in the WIC manual. For example:
The doctor’s report should have the applicant’s height, weight and bloodwork, too.
You can apply for WIC at your local agency. This same agency will give you WIC benefits if you qualify.
If you move, you might be able to keep getting WIC benefits from the same agency until your benefits run out. Then you can apply for WIC at your new local agency. This is called the WIC benefits transfer. There is no time requirement for how long a family has to live in an area before they can apply. But you might be put on a waiting list until benefits are available.
Families who are most in need will get WIC assistance first. WIC agencies want to make sure that the people in most need are safe and healthy. Remember that different agencies give priority to different groups of people. So just because someone might get benefits faster in one state doesn’t mean they’ll get benefits faster in another state.
WIC agencies have seven priority levels. These are based on health, age and how much money applicants make. For example, Priority I is pregnant women and babies who weigh less than they should. Priority VII is people who are already in the WIC program who would be in trouble without benefits.
To learn more about WIC requirements, download our free guide.