Participating in WIC
Participants must meet each of the categorical, residential, and income requirements and must be individually determined to be at “nutritional risk” by a health professional. The U.S. Food and Nutrition Service’s WIC Prescreening Tool can be used to help determine if you qualify for WIC. More information about requirements can be found here.
Those who are interested in applying for benefits should contact their State agency to request information on where to schedule an appointment. Applicants will be advised on what to bring to the appointment in order to verify eligibility. Contact your State agency here.
The WIC Program is designed to serve certain categories of women, infants, and children. The following individuals are considered eligible for WIC:
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 or 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 live in the State in which they apply. Applicants served in areas where WIC is administered by an Indian Tribal Organization (ITO) must meet residency requirements established by the ITO. In some States, applicants may be required to live in a local service area and apply at a WIC clinic that serves that area. Applicants are not required to live in the State or local service area for a certain amount of time in order to meet the WIC residency requirement.
WIC applicants must have income at or below an income level or standard set by the State agency or be determined automatically income-eligible based on participation in certain programs.
- Income Standard: To be eligible on the basis of income, the applicant’s’ gross income (i.e. before taxes are withheld) must fall at or below 185 percent of the U.S. Poverty Income Guidelines, or at the State agency’s income standard.
- Automatic Income Eligibility: Certain applicants can be determined income-eligible for WIC based on their participation in certain programs, such as individuals:
- eligible to receive SNAP benefits, Medicaid, for TANF,
- with certain family members eligible for Medicaid or TANF, or
- individuals that are eligible to participate in certain State-administered programs.
“Nutrition risk” means that an individual has medical-based or dietary-based conditions. Two major types of nutritional risk are recognized for WIC eligibility:
- Medically-based risks (designated as “high priority”) such as anemia, underweight, maternal age, history of pregnancy complications, or poor pregnancy outcomes.
- Diet-based risks such as inadequate dietary pattern.
Applicants must be seen by a health professional such as a physician, nurse, or nutritionist who must determine whether the individual is at nutrition risk. This health screening is free to program applicants.
WIC nutrition risk criteria were developed by FNS in conjunction with State and local WIC agency experts. WIC State agencies are not required to use all of the nutritional risk criteria on the new list. At a minimum, the applicant’s height and weight must be measured and bloodwork taken to check for anemia. An applicant must have at least one of the medical or dietary conditions on the State’s list of WIC nutrition risk criteria.