Have you heard of D-SNAP? Disaster SNAP helps low income people replace food that is lost or damaged by a natural disaster. There are 7 things you need to know about this program.
Disaster SNAP is very different from normal SNAP.
For those who don’t already know, SNAP stands for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is the formal name for food stamps. Standard SNAP is available all the time to low income people who qualify.
On the other hand, Disaster SNAP is only authorized in certain areas and for specific emergencies. The President must declare Individual Assistance for the disaster area and the state must request FNS approval in order to start issuing Disaster SNAP benefits.
Disaster SNAP benefits are issued on EBT cards.
Just like regular SNAP, Disaster SNAP benefits are issued on EBT cards. These cards work just like debit cards and can be used to buy eligible food at most local grocery stores.
Disaster SNAP has different eligibility requirements.
If you live in an area where Disaster SNAP has been approved, then you may be eligible for those benefits if you have experienced a qualifying disaster-related expense. Qualifying expenses include: home or business repairs, temporary shelter expenses, evacuation or relocation expenses, home or business protection, disaster-related personal injury, funeral expenses, lost income, delayed receipt of income, or food loss as a result of the disaster.
You may be eligible for Disaster SNAP even if you already get regular SNAP.
People who currently receive food stamps may be able to get a temporary increase through Disaster SNAP if they are eligible. In order to be eligible, you must currently receive less than the monthly maximum AND have losses from the disaster. The D-SNAP increases will supplement your benefits and bring you up to the maximum amount for your household size temporarily. This way SNAP households receive the same amount as D-SNAP households during the disaster period.
You may be able to get replacement SNAP benefits.
If you were already receiving food stamps, you may be able to get replacement benefits for any food that was lost during the disaster. For example, if you had recently shopped with food stamps but floodwaters ruined your food, then you may be able to get replacement benefits for the food that was ruined. You will need to contact your local food stamps office for help.
You can sometimes apply before the disaster is approved.
In the wake of Hurricane Ida, Louisiana encouraged residents to apply for Disaster SNAP before the benefits were authorized. This early application was intended to help expedite the process when the benefits were approved. Always follow your state agencies for guidance so that you can apply as soon as possible.
Sometimes the rules change during disasters.
Along with the pre-registering process, Louisiana also suspended certain rules related to food stamps purchases. For example, they are authorizing the purchase of hot, ready-to-eat foods after the disaster since many affected households cannot use their kitchens to prepare food.
These rule changes are done on a case-by-case basis, so it’s important to follow your local state agencies for guidance.