Big changes are coming to the SNAP Program in 2024! We’ve got a mix of updates – some good, some bad, and many important ones in between.
Today, we’re diving into 20 significant SNAP EBT changes you need to know about so that you can be prepared for what’s ahead.
Extra EBT in 2024
Let’s start with some good news: millions of people will see an increase in their SNAP food benefits through several new initiatives that will launch this year.
First up, the brand new Summer EBT program will launch in 2024. This initiative is a game-changer for families, especially during those challenging summer months when free and reduced-price school meals aren’t available.
Here’s how it works: Each eligible school-age child can receive up to $120 in extra EBT benefits over the summer – that’s $40 per month for each month of summer. For a family with three kids, that’s an extra $360 in food benefits over the summer!
But who’s eligible? This program is designed to help children who receive free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program. However, in a detailed 17-page USDA Q&A, it’s noted that other children, including those who are homeschooled, may be able to receive these benefits if they participate in a means-tested program like SNAP, TANF or Medicaid. This is really exciting for low income families.
However, as usual, there is a catch. Each state can decide whether or not to participate in this program and not all states are on board. As of this writing, there are 20 states, 3 territories and 2 Tribal Nations who are already registered to provide these benefits.
Participating states include:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
- American Samoa
- Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
- Cherokee Nation
- Chickasaw Nation
On the flip side, some states have indicated that they aren’t going to offer this to their residents. Those states include Florida and Nebraska.
No matter what happens, I’ll keep updating you on any changes in our weekly resource roundups. Make sure you’re subscribed to our email list so that you never miss out! You can opt-in using the form below.
New EBT Incentives & Rebates
Kids aren’t the only ones getting extra EBT in 2024, either! There are new programs launching that will help seniors, veterans, and basically everyone get extra EBT this year.
If you’ve watched our videos before, you know I love to talk about nutrition incentives like Double Up Food Bucks and grocery prescription programs. These are both great ways to get extra food with your benefits and I’m glad to report that we’ve seen those programs steadily grow and expand every year.
In 2024, we’ll see them expand even more.
The USDA recently announced that they are going to invest more than $52 million in the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Programs to help these programs reach more people. Now, these incentives include the programs that will double or even triple your SNAP benefits when you shop at participating retailers, and they also include other programs like FreshRX grocery prescriptions, free farmer’s market vouchers and more.
Many of these programs are going to become even easier to use in 2024, because a lot of them are upgrading from paper vouchers and wooden tokens to digital tracking systems that will put the money right back on your EBT card.
The federal government is supporting this move by sponsoring an electronic healthy incentives program pilot in three states. These three states were given millions of dollars in federal money to develop this new technology.
Starting in January, Washington State is expected to launch their electronic program. This program will reimburse your EBT card directly when you purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. When you buy fresh produce, you’ll get a 100% reimbursement which means that all that money will go right back on your EBT card.
You can use the reimbursement to buy whatever SNAP-eligible items you want. The only catch is that there is a maximum reimbursement of $50 per month – but that’s an extra $50 in food stamps that you can spend every single month on fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables.
These rules will vary depending on what state you live in. The Colorado program is expected to launch in April but it will have a maximum reimbursement of $60 per month, and you can only get up to $20 reimbursed in each transaction.
Louisiana’s program will launch in August, but it will only reimburse shoppers 30 cents for every dollar spent on fresh produce and there is a $25 per month limit.
California has already implemented a program like this that reimburses shoppers for purchasing healthy fruits and vegetables. Their program can provide up to $60 in reimbursements when you purchase fresh fruit and vegetables from participating retailers.
Oh – and to be clear, these new programs are not a replacement for Double Up Food Bucks or other programs like that. These new programs are completely separate from the other nutrition incentive programs.
Some states have even increased the amount of SNAP benefits that you can receive from the program by using state funds to supplement those payments. For example, New Jersey‘s Governor Murphy raised the minimum SNAP benefit to $95 per month last year.
Washington DC will temporarily boost SNAP payments starting in January 2024. This will boost payments by about $47 on average.
Easier to Get & Keep Benefits
Some states are making it easier for you to get and keep your SNAP benefits, too! This is really important because food just keeps getting more expensive and everyone needs a little help.
These are really exciting developments because it shows that local governments are actively working to address the challenges of food insecurity. By adjusting income and asset limits and even supplementing SNAP benefits, states are acknowledging the rising cost of living and taking concrete steps to ensure more people can access the help they need.
Increased Income Limits
In Connecticut, Governor Lamont recently changed the income eligibility limits so that an additional 9,000 people could qualify for SNAP benefits. They did this by raising the income limits to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level instead of just 185%.
It is hoped that other states will follow suit in 2024.
Increased Asset Limits
In Texas, the state decided to adjust the vehicle asset limits so that more people could qualify for food stamps as well. This helps thousands more people receive SNAP benefits. Michigan also eliminated the asset test for food assistance last year.
It is hoped that other states will also eliminate or adjust the asset limits in 2024 so that more people will be able to get and keep their food benefits.
More Online Ordering
It’s going to get even easier to spend SNAP benefits online this year! We hit a major milestone last June when Alaska became the 50th state to allow online purchases with SNAP benefits. In October last year, a record 3.9 million SNAP households were shopping online. That’s pretty cool.
It will get even easier to do this in 2024 since Uber Eats has announced that they will start accepting SNAP benefits for online grocery orders and deliveries. DoorDash and Instacart already accept SNAP, as well.
Local Grocery Expansion
To make it even easier for rural people to shop online, the USDA has announced something they are calling the SNAP EBT Modernization Technical Assistance Center.
This is a new service that will help small local grocers start accepting SNAP benefits online. The hope is that this new SEMTAC center will help bring online SNAP orders to more rural and underserved communities.
More farms are expected to start accepting EBT as well, since the USDA has also launched a new program that allows farmers to accept SNAP payments online. This new program will empower them to accept SNAP payments online using mobile phones.
This development will boost sales at farm stands, pick-your-own operations, and farmers’ markets – a win for both farmers and SNAP shoppers.
New Fraud Prevention Measures
Unfortunately, new technological advances bring new challenges… and in the SNAP program, that challenge is fraud. In recent years, we’ve seen an outrageous increase in EBT thefts through skimmers, hacks, fake websites, text message scams, and more. It’s more important than ever to stay vigilant and informed so that you don’t lose your precious benefits.
Stolen EBT Replacement Available Nationwide
We’ve often discussed EBT fraud on this channel. Most states are now set up to replace stolen EBT benefits. By October 2023, the USDA had approved plans for every state to do this.
However, some areas are lagging in implementing these programs. Take Arkansas, for example; their replacement program isn’t expected to be operational until June 2024.
Mobile Payment Pilot Begins
EBT theft often catches users off guard. All it takes is to swipe your card at the wrong register and you could have your account completely drained within minutes. That’s because it can be really hard to tell if a skimmer has been installed on the terminal. Skimmers are small devices that can capture your card number and PIN. That information is sent to scammers who can use it to clone your card and spend your benefits.
To stop this, the USDA has announced a Mobile Payment Pilot. This program will start testing different ways that you can pay with EBT benefits.
This new technology will allow you to tap-to-pay or even pay with your mobile device, just like you can with an ordinary debit or credit card.
Initially, this will be tested in five states:
Those states are all working on implementing this new tech but it’s unclear if it will be available before the end of 2024.
New Fraud Prevention Grants
In the meantime, the USDA is trying other things to crack down on fraud. They’ve issued around $3 million in grants to other states to implement new safety measures that will help protect your food benefits.
Colorado, Michigan, Mississippi, Texas, and Wisconsin are using these funds in diverse ways – including training staff, implementing new technologies and even upgrading forensic tools for investigating SNAP cybercrimes.
Debate About Photos on EBT Cards
Another security measure being debated is the introduction of photos on EBT cards. While this could deter theft, it raises concerns about restricting access, SNAP benefits are meant for the entire household, which can include multigenerational families or roommates. If only one person’s photo is on the card, it could mean that other members of the household wouldn’t be able to shop.
To address this, Congressman Greg Casar from Texas has proposed the ‘No Photo for Food Act,’ which would prohibit states from requiring photos on SNAP cards.
Some Retailers Overcharging EBT Customers
In Washington DC, for example, the Attorney General has warned about stores overcharging SNAP users – a clear violation of the program’s rules. This came to light when Charmaine Garrett reported being overcharged for a soda.
The charge was only 50 cents, but it was still illegal. If you’re shopping with EBT, make sure to check your receipts so that you know you’re not being overcharged.
New Changes to Fix Backlogs
Backlogs are another major problem plaguing the EBT system right now. Many people are waiting months to get their applications processed, and that’s tough when you depend on these benefits to feed yourself or your family.
Take Alaska as an example. They finally managed to clear a huge backlog of 14,000 applications, only to face another backlog of 12,000 almost immediately due to a “perfect storm” of problems including weather disruptions, technology problems and new interview requirements. They’re planning to bring in 200 more staff to help out, but until then, thousands of families are stuck waiting.
And it’s not just Alaska. In Memphis , one woman reported waiting five years for her SNAP interview due to glitches in the scheduling system. Another person waited seven months due to constant delays and broken promises for a callback.
But, there’s good news. Big changes are being made to make the SNAP application process quicker and smoother.
For starters, the USDA has teamed up with Equifax and Experian for a 5-year deal. This investment will allow states to check payroll records to confirm how much money people make.
This change is expected to make things faster because many applicants won’t need to hand in as much paperwork like pay stubs. It should also help cut down mistakes and make customer service better.
Some states are implementing additional changes.
- Washington DC and Kansas are planning to use a smart robot system to help handle caseloads and paperwork.
- North Carolina is setting up a way for you to prove who you are remotely, so you don’t have to go to an office.
- South Carolina is upgrading their system to automatically check Social Security Numbers
- Ohio is improving the recertification process to make it quicker and less of a hassle.
2024 Farm Bill
As we look ahead, one of the biggest changes on the horizon is the new Farm Bill. This crucial legislation is the backbone of the SNAP program. Originally due last September, Congress extended the current bill to September 2024. This gives them extra time to craft new laws that will significantly shape SNAP’s future.
The Farm Bill isn’t just about food stamps; it’s a massive omnibus bill covering a range of nutrition programs. It plays a critical role in ensuring the safety and security of these programs for low-income individuals and families across the country.
Now, let’s talk about ‘marker bills’ – an important part of this legislative process. Essentially, marker bills are proposals introduced by lawmakers or lobbying groups as potential additions to the larger Farm Bill. They’re like suggestions or markers indicating what some people hope to include in the final bill. Let’s look at a few notable Marker Bills that were introduced this year and will likely be re-introduced next year for consideration.
Closing the Meal Gap Act
The Closing the Meal Gap Act would increase SNAP payments by using the Low Cost Food Plan instead of the Thrifty Food Plan. These are different food budgets that the USDA uses to determine what a reasonable grocery budget looks like.
If they use the Low Cost Food Plan, the budget would automatically increase. This Act also would increase the deductions, eliminate time limits, and expand SNAP to Puerto Rico.
Hot Foods Act
The Hot Foods Act would change the rules so that SNAP benefits could be used to purchase hot foods that are ready to eat.
The advocates for this bill argue that people who receive food benefits typically face challenges to preparing healthy meals at home. These challenges include disability, lack of storage space, lack of kitchen equipment, or lack of time due to working multiple jobs or having unpredictable schedules.
Keeping Kupuna Fed Act
The Keeping Kapuna Fed Act would exempt all Social Security benefits from the food stamps income calculation.
This would result in much higher rates of SNAP benefits for seniors and people with disabilities. It would also protect those benefits from future drops due to COLA increases.
Senior Hunger Prevention Act
The Senior Hunger Prevention Act would increase the minimum monthly SNAP benefits for everyone, expand the simplified ESAP program to more areas, and help people with disabilities access more food programs.
New E&T Programs
Nebraska’s E&T program is getting a lot of attention lately. E&T, or Education and Training, is a component of SNAP that often goes under the radar. But the USDA has been working hard to get starters to implement and grow these programs, and Nebraska’s E&T program has brought some impressive results.
Nearly 1,000 people have enrolled in Nebraska’s SNAP Next Step program since it launched in 2016. The results are impressive. Those who participate see their earnings jump tenfold on everage – from about $265 per month when they start to $2,422 in their first month after completing the program. This growth in income benefits both the individuals and the state, since the average SNAP payment decreases significantly, from $508 to $190. Around 60% of those who completed the program no longer need SNAP assistance at all.
Lawmakers are taking note of this success. In fact, Nebraska Senator Pete Ricketts has even introduced a marker bill called the SNAP Next Step Act which would expand this program nationally. This proposal could be part of the upcoming Farm Bill, but we’ll have to wait until later in the year to see if it’s included.
Other Marker Bills
There are dozens, if not hundreds, more marker bills being considered and each one could have a huge impact on the SNAP program. If you feel strongly about any of these proposals, it’s crucial to make your voice heard. Visit Congress.gov, find your Congressional representatives using your address, and reach out to them to show your support.
New Work Rules
One thing we do know is that the work requirements for Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents will be expanded. On October 1st, 2024, these rules will expand to include adults up to age 54.
This means if you fall into this category, you’ll need to meet specific work criteria to keep receiving your SNAP benefits. There are exceptions, notably for those with disabilities or living in areas with high unemployment, which might provide some relief.
Other Annual Adjustments
Of course, we’ll see more big changes to SNAP later in 2024 as well. That’s because the SNAP program runs on a fiscal year, from October to September, instead of the standard calendar year. This means the major updates are typically announced at the end of the year, with changes taking effect from October 1st.
In October, be prepared for important updates like the annual cost-of-living adjustment. This adjustment, along with changes to the maximum allotments and deduction amounts, is crucial for ensuring the program keeps pace with inflation and continues to effectively support those in need.
There are many changes coming to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in 2024! In this annual EBT update, we’ve provided detailed information about the biggest changes including the implementation of Summer EBT, new SNAP incentive programs, new work rules and more. For the latest EBT news, make sure to sign up for our email newsletter and subscribe to our YouTube channel!