WIC eligibility is limited to pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants and toddlers up to age 5. In order to be eligible for WIC benefits, several criteria must be met. These include income, residency and a determination that the applicant is at “nutritional risk.”
Income: If you are currently enrolled in other federal assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps), Medicaid or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TAMP), and you automatically qualify for WIC. If you are not in any of these programs, you need to figure out if your income qualifies.
For federal WIC eligibility, your gross income (income before taxes) must be within 185% of the U.S. Poverty Income Guidelines. For a family of one, that means that your income must be equal to or less than $23,606 per year. This income qualification adjusts depending on the size of the family. For every additional family member, add $8,288 to find the income qualification cutoff.
For example, the income cutoff for a family of five is $56,758. This is $23,606 plus $8,288 x 4 additional family members. Most states use these federal guidelines for WIC eligibility, however some may set lower income limit standards.
In order to receive WIC benefits in a particular state, you must be a permanent resident of that state. You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to qualify for WIC, but you do have to be permanently living in the United States. WIC is one of the few federal public benefit programs that is open to undocumented immigrants.
Once you apply for WIC, a health professional will give you a free health screening to decide if you are at nutritional risk. For WIC eligibility, there are two types of nutritional risk:
- Medically based risk such as being underweight, being anemic, young maternal age and a history of pregnancy complications or poor pregnancy outcomes
- Diet-based risk like an inadequate dietary pattern