Who Qualifies for WIC and How to Apply
In order to become eligible for the WIC Program, applicants must meet all of these following requirements:
Nutrition Risk (More details found here)
The WIC Program was created in order to best serve special categories of people; women, infants, and children. In order to become categorically eligible for WIC, you must be a part of any of these groups:
Pregnant (during pregnancy and up to 6 weeks after the birth of an infant or the end of the pregnancy)
Postpartum (up to six months after the birth of the infant of the end of the pregnancy)
Breastfeeding (up to the infant’s first birthday)
Infants (up to the infant's first birthday)
Children (up to the child’s fifth birthday)
Applicants must reside in the state in which they apply. Those that served in areas where WIC is administered by an Indian Tribal Organization (ITO), must meet residency requirements that have been established by the ITO.
At a State agency option, applicants might be required to live in a local service area and apply at that dedicated WIC clinic.
Applicants are not required to live in the State or local service area for any specific amount of time in order to qualify for WIC residency requirements.
For any applicants, in order to qualify for WIC, they must have an income at or below an income level or standard that varies and is defined by each State agency or must be determined automatically income-eligible based on their participation in other specific programs.
Income Standard: The State agency’s income standard must be between 100 percent of the Federal poverty guidelines (issued each year by the Department of Health and Human Services), but must not be more than 185 percent of the Federal poverty income guidelines.
Automatic Income Eligibility: Certain applicants can be determined as income-eligible for WIC, based on their participation in specific programs. These individuals:
Are eligible to receive SNAP benefits, Medicaid, for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, Aid to Families with Department Children),
Whose family members are eligible to receive Medicaid or TANH, or
At a State agency option, might be eligible to participate in certain other State-administered programs
Updated WIC Income Eligibility Guidelines
On March 18, 2016, there was a notice announcing revisions to the WIC Income Eligibility Guidelines and was published in the Federal Register. WIC State agencies must implement these new income guidelines no later than July 1, 2016. In January 2016, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) published their annual update of poverty guidelines [81 FR 4036]. HHS’ guidelines are utilized by a number of Federal programs, those of which include WIC, Medicaid, and act as the basis for determining income eligibility limits.
In order to be eligible based on income, an applicant’s gross income (amount before taxes) must fall at or below the 185 percent level of the U.S Poverty Income Guidelines.
Nutrition Risk Requirements
During the application process, individuals must be seen by a health professional (ie. physician, nurse, or nutritionist) who can best determine whether or not the individual is at a nutritional risk. In most scenarios, this is completed at the WIC clinic free to the applicant.
“Nutrition risk” is simply that an individual has medical-based or dietary-based conditions currently or might have in the recent past. Examples could include:
Anemia (low blood levels)
Poor pregnancy outcomes
The applicant’s height and weight must be measured, along with blood work to check for anemia. They must have at least one of the medical or dietary conditions on the State’s list of WIC nutrition risk criteria.
You may use the WIC PRESCREENING TOOL, to help you determine if you are likely to be eligible for WIC benefits. If you are likely to be eligible, it is best advised to set an appointment at your WIC local agency. If using this tool, you will be provided a printable copy of the summary of your responses and a list of examples of the documentation that would be required for the set appointment.