There have been several key changes to the SNAP program:
Suspension of Time Limit for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs): The suspension of the time limit for ABAWDs will end the month after the public health emergency ends. After this, ABAWDs aged 18-49 without dependents and not pregnant cannot receive SNAP benefits for more than three months within a three-year period unless they meet certain work requirements or are exempt.
Phasing Out of Temporary Student Exemptions: The temporary student exemptions that allowed certain students pursuing higher education at least half-time to be eligible for SNAP benefits will be phased out 30 days after the federal public health emergency ends.
End of Emergency Allotments: SNAP emergency allotments, a temporary strategy authorized by Congress during the COVID-19 pandemic, ended nationwide after the February 2023 issuance.
Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA): The 2023 COLA is the largest in 40 years, causing a decrease in SNAP benefits as early as January 2023 due to an increase in Social Security benefits. However, households will still experience a net gain, as the decrease in SNAP benefits is less than the increase in Social Security benefits.
These changes have a variety of impacts on vulnerable groups:
Impact on ABAWDs: ABAWDs will face restrictions in receiving SNAP benefits unless they meet certain work requirements or are exempt.
Impact on Students: Students pursuing higher education at least half-time may still be eligible for SNAP benefits if they meet a regular student exemption.
Impact on Households Receiving Social Security: Households that receive both SNAP and Social Security benefits will see a decrease in their SNAP benefits due to the Social Security COLA. However, they will experience a net gain as the decrease in SNAP benefits is less than the increase in Social Security benefits.
Impact on All SNAP Households: All SNAP households will see a decrease in the SNAP benefits they receive when emergency allotments end. Some households may no longer receive SNAP benefits due to the Social Security increase if they are no longer income-eligible.
It’s worth noting that if you’re unsure about your eligibility for SNAP benefits or need more information about your specific situation, you should contact your local SNAP office. You can also explore other government nutrition assistance programs.
As a final point, these changes can disproportionately affect certain vulnerable groups, including ethnic minorities and Indigenous Peoples, who often experience high levels of inequality and exclusion. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that these changes are communicated effectively to these communities and that support is provided to help them navigate these changes.