Who Qualifies for WIC and How to Apply
To become eligible for the WIC Program, applicants must meet all of the given requirements:
Nutrition Risk (More details found here)
1. Categorical Requirements
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) was created in order to better serve certain people within a distinct category; women, infants, and children. In order to become categorically eligible for WIC, you must fall within one of these three categories:
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)
2. Residential Requirements
Those planning to initiate the application process must reside in the state in which they plan to 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 may be required to live in a local service area and apply at that designated 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.
3. Income Requirements
For all WIC applicants, there is a restriction set at or below a decided income level or standard that varies and is defined by each State agency. Sometimes applicants may be determined automatically "income-eligible" based on their participation in other assistance 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 other government assistance programs. These select 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 become eligible based on income, an applicant’s gross income (the amount earned before taxes) must fall at or below the 185 percent level of the U.S Poverty Income Guidelines.
4. Nutrition Risk Requirements
During the application process, individuals must be seen by a health professional such as a physician, nurse, or nutritionist, who can determine whether or not the individual is at a nutritional risk. In most cases, 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 red blood cell levels)
Poor pregnancy outcomes
The applicant’s height and weight must be measured, along with blood work to check for any problems with anemia (low red blood cell levels). An individual must have at least one of the medical or dietary conditions that falls in the State’s list of WIC nutrition risk criteria.
You may use the WIC PRESCREENING TOOL, to better help you determine if you are likely to be eligible for WIC benefits. If you see that you might be eligible, it is suggested to set an appointment with your WIC local agency to complete the process. If you decided to use this tool, you will be given 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.