As part of the federal rollback of pandemic-related aid, up to 16 million American households are experiencing a significant reduction in the amount of assistance they receive from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also referred to as SNAP, this month. The Food Research & Action Center, an advocacy group committed to eradicating hunger, has reported that SNAP participants will receive approximately $82 less in benefits on average this month. Certain households may even face reductions exceeding $250.
This month, the “hunger cliff,” as dubbed by organizations such as FRAC, is impacting recipients in 32 states and the District of Columbia, resulting in a significant reduction in benefits. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program, over 80% of SNAP recipients are either working families, individuals with disabilities, or elderly individuals. Additionally, roughly two-thirds of SNAP households include children.
Your SNAP benefits will revert to their pre-pandemic level
Under emergency allotments, households eligible for SNAP received an additional $95 per month or an amount that raised their total benefit to the maximum level based on household size, whichever was higher. However, this month marks the end of the additional allotment. As a result, Individuals will now have an average of $82 less in their SNAP electronic benefit transfer card to utilize for grocery purchases compared to their March allocation.
Senior citizens will be the hardest hit by the benefit reductions. Those who qualify for the minimum SNAP benefit, primarily elderly individuals, will experience a significant decrease, with their allocation dropping from $281 per month to only $23 this March. SNAP beneficiaries will now receive an average of approximately $6 per person per day. Ellen Vollinger, the Director of SNAP at FRAC, noted that hunger persists even when the government’s efforts to address it diminish. She added that the expenses are shifted to different entities, such as states, local governments, charities, and households themselves, as beneficiaries adjust to the reduced benefits and learn how to manage their limited funds.
What are the states impacted by this change?
As of this month, the additional SNAP benefits have ended in 32 states, namely: Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Additionally, the changes to SNAP benefits also impact the District of Columbia, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The remaining states had already ceased offering the additional benefits. However, as the federal pandemic-era boost in benefits drew to a close last month, New Jersey became the first state to enact SNAP legislation in 2023. Under the new law, all beneficiaries in the state will receive a minimum of $95 in benefits each month. If the federal government determines that you qualify for a lower amount, a state-funded supplement will make up the difference.
It is recommended to verify your eligibility level for SNAP
SNAP eligibility is similar to federal income tax, where applicants can deduct qualifying expenses from their total income to determine their eligible SNAP benefits. Some deductible expenses may include medical costs, child care expenses, or expenses related to caring for disabled adults while you are employed, seeking employment, attending school, or undergoing training. You may also deduct legally required child support payments.
In addition to the aforementioned deductible expenses, some SNAP recipients may also be eligible to deduct certain housing costs. For example, the program provides a shelter deduction that covers rent, mortgage payments, or other housing-related expenses that exceed half of a household’s net income after other deductions. Certain states may also permit recipients to deduct the costs associated with residing in a homeless shelter.
It may be worth reconsidering your eligible expenses for SNAP even if you factored them in during your initial application, given the inflation that has caused many service prices to rise over the last two years. According to Vollinger, while this won’t make up for the entire decrease in benefits, it can still impact the extent of the cuts that households face.