Protecting your SNAP benefits’ Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) from theft must be primordial for you. I mean, your family might depend on it, and that plastic card is actually easy to hack. I know, it’s alarming, yet there are methods to avoid it (We’ll talk about it later). But, if it has already happened to you, the USDA has a program to restore stolen benefits.
Unfortunately, incidents of card skimming, cloning, and other fraudulent activities have been on the rise in recent years, which has prompted the government to take swift action. Recognizing the urgency, the Federal Government signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, on December 29, 2022. This significant legislation includes provisions to replace stolen SNAP benefits with federal funds. Here’s how the money will be restored to victims.
How will you receive back your stolen SNAP benefits
To ensure the effective implementation of this plan, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) with the responsibility of issuing guidance and implementing regulations to safeguard and replace stolen SNAP benefits. As part of this process, state agencies are required to submit plans outlining their approach to handling household claims of stolen benefits, also referred to as claims. The replacement of stolen benefits is authorized for SNAP benefits, including Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP) and emergency allotments (EA).
However, remember that the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) benefits, which are not classified as SNAP benefits, are not eligible for replacement under this specific legislation. According to the criteria set for replacement benefits, the amount to be replaced cannot exceed the value of the stolen benefits or two months’ worth of the household’s monthly allotment.
Sounds tricky, but here’s an example: If a household reports a theft of $100 on March 1, 2023, and their last allotment was $250 issued on February 10, 2023 (equivalent to two months’ allotment of $500), the household would receive up to $100 in replacement benefits. However, if the reported theft amounted to $600, the household would receive the maximum replacement of $500. Now, there’s another point to consider: each household is eligible for a maximum of two replacement instances per federal fiscal year.
How do they calculate the amount to be replaced and what happen if an application is denied
In cases where theft occurs over multiple transactions and days, the replacement benefits will be determined based on the date of the first occurrence of theft. Another example: If a household’s benefits were stolen through multiple transactions between June 17 and June 18, but their monthly allotment was issued on June 15, 2023, the replacement benefits will be calculated based on the June 15 allotment.
States are also required to outline their approach for addressing claims made in the first quarter of FFY 2023, prior to the implementation of their state plans. The state plan must include the timeframe within which these claims will be accepted. Remember, all households, regardless of when the theft occurred, are required to submit a signed statement validating their claim.
If, for any reason, a claim is denied, the state agency must inform the household of its right to a fair hearing to contest the denial. It’s important to note that replacement benefits will not be issued while the denial or delay is being appealed. State agencies must maintain proper documentation of the submitted claims and findings from the validation process. Additionally, they should develop plans for collecting and reporting data on benefit theft and replacement activity to the FNS. These reports will be required at regular intervals throughout the implementation of the state plan.