Stimulus bill-era supplemental SNAP assistance is at risk of ending on April 15 if the Biden administration does not extend the public health emergency (PHE) declaration put in place during the pandemic.
Since the pandemic began to affect the economy and prices started to increase, the U.S. Department of Agriculture granted waivers to certain states and territories allowing for the issuance of emergency supplemental income to SNAP recipients. The extra money was conditional on a state issuing an emergency or disaster declaration. The majority of states and territories have done so and have been issuing supplemental SNAP benefits to their EBT card recipients as a result.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra extended the emergency declaration on Jan. 16, 2022, with a new expiry date of April 15, 2022. This means if the measure is not extended once again, the supplemental SNAP money millions of Americans have been receiving up until now is at risk.
The additional money can amount to about an extra $100 per month, which allows needy families to reach the maximum monthly benefit level depending on their state’s rules and maximums. Without this supplemental income, families who still fall below the poverty line might still not meet the maximum monthly benefit.
SNAP money, regardless of state or territory, is only allowable for purchases of fresh produce, food, and groceries at pre-approved vendors and grocers for each state’s program. This means the extra money is guaranteed to be used on food for families in need — the money is not deposited into a discretionary account to be used at the will of each recipient. Restrictions sometimes go as far as to not allow the purchase of alcohol, hot food, or food that is to be eaten in the store. In many cases, the purchase of pet food, soaps and even paper towels is not allowed with food stamps.
Should the extra assistance not be renewed, the following states (and territories) will be impacted:
- District of Columbia.
- New Jersey.
- New Hampshire.
- New Mexico.
- New York.
- North Carolina.
- Rhode Island.
- South Carolina.
- West Virginia.
In terms of Medicaid, the designation of an ongoing public health emergency has allowed for broader delivery of benefits (such as telehealth sessions) as well as prevention of active state Medicaid enrolment cancellation during the pandemic. Should the PHE designation be lifted, these benefits may no longer be protected.
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