SNAP benefits to increase for six months due to COVID-19, beginning Jan. 8

SNAP benefits to increase for six months due to COVID-19, beginning Jan. 8

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - If you receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits officials with the Department say you will see an increase in your SNAP benefits for the first six months of 2021.

Recently enacted federal legislation may also make more Louisianans eligible for SNAP by excluding both federal unemployment benefits and stimulus checks from consideration as income. It would also expand student eligibility.

President Donald Trump signed a bill on Dec. 27, 2020, that increases SNAP maximum allotments by nearly 15% from January through June 2021, in response to the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

The additional benefits for January will be loaded onto current Louisiana SNAP recipients’ EBT cards on Friday, Jan. 8. For February through June, the extra benefits will be loaded at the same time as recipients’ regular benefit amount on their regularly-scheduled issuance date.

Increased SNAP Allotments

The amount of SNAP a household receives each month depends on the number of people in the household and the amount of their net income. The regular maximum SNAP allotments for 2021, along with the temporary increased maximums, are as follows:

The amount of SNAP a household receives each month depends on the number of people in the household and the amount of their net income.
The amount of SNAP a household receives each month depends on the number of people in the household and the amount of their net income. (Source: DCFS)

Changes Affecting SNAP Eligibility

Other provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2021 may make more Louisianans eligible for SNAP.

Unlike the CARES Act in 2020, the latest legislation excludes the federal pandemic unemployment benefits ($300 weekly) from consideration as income or resources in determining SNAP eligibility. (State unemployment benefits would still be counted.)

Receipt of federal unemployment benefits resulted in 44,165 (15.7%) of the 281,289 households who applied for SNAP between March and July of last year being denied food assistance, as the boost in unemployment benefits pushed those families over the income limit. Another 2,185 households who had been receiving SNAP saw their cases closed because of it. This time, the additional federal benefits will not be counted.

Stimulus checks, also known as Economic Impact Payments, will also be excluded from the eligibility calculation, just as they were with the first round of stimulus.

In addition, eligibility for college students has been expanded to include those who are enrolled at least half-time and are either eligible to participate in work study or have an expected family contribution of $0 in the current academic year, as determined by the institution of higher education.

Previously, students from families with an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0 were not automatically eligible for SNAP. The new law changes that. Pending further guidance from FNS, students will need to provide either their FAFSA paperwork which includes their EFC or their proof of eligibility for work study to DCFS when applying for SNAP.

For more information about SNAP benefits changes, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/page/snap-updates. Information about applying for SNAP can be found at www.dcfs.la.gov/snap.

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