How to Apply for WIC
Though the WIC program is federally funded, WIC applications are handled by local agencies. Currently, 90 state agencies administer WIC benefits to residents. Additionally, county-based service locations report to each agency to serve local communities. WIC service locations could be any number of places, including mobile clinics, local hospitals or even a school nurse’s office. Applicants will visit their nearest office to turn in their forms and attend a mandatory health screening before they can receive the benefits.
There are three steps to apply for WIC. Candidates must schedule an appointment at a nearby WIC location, complete a required set of forms and finalize their applications. Applicants who are deemed qualified can start receiving their benefits the same day that their application is finalized. To begin the process, candidates must schedule an appointment with the local WIC office. To qualify for WIC, complete all forms in their entirety and provide document proof.
Can I apply for WIC online?
There is no way to completely apply for WIC online, because a final appointment is required to determine a family’s qualifications. A handful of states allow an initial application form to be completed online, but an in-person appointment is still mandatory to the application process. Also, before applicants schedule their in-person assessment, some states do request that they complete an online pre-screening test. The pre-screening helps claimants determine if they satisfy the WIC eligibility requirements, but it is a not a required part of the application process. Additionally, an applicant is not certified for WIC just because he or she qualified on the pre-screening application.
If an initial application is not online, the WIC application form and required nutrition questionnaires will be provided by your local office. Different nutrition questionnaires exist for each category of candidate. If you are a postpartum mother applying for WIC, be sure to complete the nutrition questionnaire for yourself and your baby so that you both can receive WIC benefits.
An online WIC form may ask for your address, identity, contact information and your previous enrollment in WIC, when applicable. You will also be asked for your preferred language and when is the best time to contact you. The initial WIC application will not be accepted until evidence of income and identity is provided and verified.
The WIC nutrition questionnaires require information such as when your infant’s next doctor’s appointment will be or how many times a week an adult eats a meal with your child. If you are pregnant or postpartum, you may be asked to report any vitamins you take or how many times a week you eat fast food.
What You Need to Apply For WIC
Before you can officially sign up for WIC, documentation will be required as proof of your eligibility. These documents might be pay stubs or bank statements to prove you meet income requirements or a medical report to prove that you medically qualified. All of your proof will need to be prepared in advance of your appointment, or your case cannot be reviewed by a WIC staff member. Before your first appointment, you will need:
- Proof of identity.
- Proof of income.
- Proof of address.
- WIC referral form.
- Immunization records.
- Nutrition questionnaire.
To learn more about the documents you can use as proof your family meets WIC requirements, download our free informative guide.
Your First WIC Appointment
It will save you time to call a WIC phone number and schedule your application in advance, but you can also walk into a nearby office with the proper paperwork. To avoid wasting a trip, make sure that you check the WIC office hours to see which days allow walk-ins. Some offices may offer tips for the best times to come in. Some offices may also have a cut-off time to see applicants.
Your first appointment at a WIC clinic could take as much as two hours, so make the process as efficient as possible by bringing all of the required forms and attending the appointment with every member of your family, this includes your children. If you are pregnant, a due date from a doctor is acceptable.
The first WIC appointment is the final part of the enrollment process. The office will:
- Review your WIC qualifications. A caseworker will discuss your documents and completed forms with you to determine your eligibility. During the phase of the WIC application appointment, staff will introduce you to the WIC program and its requirements. A caseworker will assess the income and identity of family members.
- Ask about your nutrition habits. WIC nutrition assistance is provided in food packages. To determine your food package, WIC staff will discuss the current nutrition habits in your family. If you are lactose-intolerant or have any other allergies, the first WIC appointment is a good time to mention specific nutrition needs. Peanut butter is often included in food packages, so discuss substitutes with the staff.
- Conduct a WIC health screening. A medical referral from a health care professional will speed up the health screening process. However, staff will take the height, weight and blood work of the pregnant woman or child signing up for WIC. There is no charge for a health screening. Please keep your appointment even if you do have not your medical referrals filled by appointment time as the WIC office will do its own screening anyway.
- Refer you to other resources. WIC assistance covers more than food resources. If you are breastfeeding your child, trained WIC staff will talk to you about breastfeeding at your first appointment and connect you with the resources WIC offers. The staff will also be able to refer you to SNAP, TANF, Medicaid or any appropriate health services if you family qualifies.
If you are eligible, you will be able to collect your WIC checks right away. The adults in the family who will use the WIC vouchers need to be present to sign the certification documents, or only one adult in the family will be able to shop with the benefits. Most states now use a WIC EBT system, similar to food stamps, to distribute grants. Learn more about the WIC system by downloading our comprehensive guide.
What is WIC?
Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is a federal benefit program for new mothers and children younger than 5 years of age. It provides healthy food supplements to fight malnourishment and nutrition-related diseases like anemia. Studies have shown that women who are enrolled in WIC have safer pregnancies, and children who are enrolled in WIC have better mental health and better grades.
Who is eligible for WIC?
To be eligible for WIC, you must have a child who is younger than 5 years of age. Though the program is called Women, Infants and Children, you do not have to be a biological mother in order to claim WIC benefits on behalf of your children. To qualify for WIC, you must be low-income and medically determined to be at nutritional risk. Post-partum women are eligible in some states, but not all.