There are 10 HUGE food stamps changes in 2023 that you can’t afford to miss! Whether you get benefits already or you’re thinking about applying, here’s what you need to know this year.
Emergency Allotments may be ending in 2023.
First, let’s talk about those emergency allotments. There are more than 30 states that are still issuing these extra benefits every month but the USDA is encouraging those states to brace for the end of this program. If you live in one of those states, you also need to brace yourself.
We’ve been warned for over a year now that this program will come to an end soon and it already has ended in many states.
As soon as the federal government ends the public health declaration order due to COVID-19, those extra benefits are over no matter where you live. The good news is that we should have about 90 days’ notice before that happens, because the federal government has promised to give states at least 60 days’ notice before they end the order and then states will be able to issue one more month of extras before dropping everyone back down to the normal levels.
If you started receiving food stamps during the pandemic, you really need to look at the paperwork or contact your caseworker to figure out what your regular benefit amount will be. A lot of people have been receiving a lot more than they usually would… and it’s important that you know what to expect when these food stamps changes happen.
Immigrants can get food stamps without worrying about losing their chance at citizenship.
Second, immigrants will be able to get SNAP without worrying about the impact on their citizenship applications. For a long time, noncitizens who needed assistance with food fell into a legislative gray area.
A January 2022 memo from the USDA To State SNAP Commissioners explained, “Many immigrant households may be concerned about applying for and accessing SNAP benefits because of confusion and fear about the consequences for their or their families’ immigration statuses.”
This is because the Immigration and Nationality Act states that “a noncitizen who is “likely at any time to become a public charge” is inadmissible to the United States and is ineligible to become a lawful permanent resident.” In 2019, a new rule by DHS said that any past, current or possible future use of SNAP benefits could affect a noncitizen’s immigration status.
However, the Department of Homeland Security has amended its regulations to state that receipt of SNAP benefits or other federal nutrition assistance benefits is NOT considered when making a public charge determination. It doesn’t count.
This food stamps change is effective December 23, 2022. If you are a noncitizen, your family can safely receive food assistance without jeopardizing your current or future immigration status.
Income reporting requirements have changed.
Third, there’s been a change to how you report income changes. When you’re receiving SNAP benefits, you’re required to complete recertification paperwork at certain intervals. Many recipients are also required to report significant changes to their income that could impact their benefits, no matter when those changes happen.
In October, the USDA changed the threshold. Now, you only have to report when your income increases by at least $125. This number is the same for all states and territories.
There’s an interesting asterisk in the document that says this applies only to households assigned to change reporting. According to Massachusetts Legal Help, “The majority of SNAP households are on ‘Simplified Reporting.’ This means you do not have to report… any changes most of the time.” Able-bodied adults without dependents are the most likely to have to report those changes. When in doubt, check your paperwork.
Also, don’t forget that you can report a decrease in your income at any time. When your income goes down or your expenses go up, it could make you eligible for more food stamps that you are currently getting. You should report those changes right away so that you can get the right amount of food benefits.
The maximum benefits have increased.
Fourth, the maximum benefits have increased. You may remember this from our reporting in October, since that’s typically when the annual COLA adjustments are made.
The maximum benefits are shown in the chart below.
|Household #||Typical||Alaska||Hawaii||Guam||Virgin Islands|
|2||$516||$644 – $1,000||$987||$761||$664|
|3||$740||$923 – $1,432||$1,413||$1,090||$951|
|4||$939||$1,172 – $1,819||$1,794||$1,385||$1,208|
|5||$1,116||$1,391 – $2,160||$2,131||$1,644||$1,434|
|6||$1,339||$1,670 – $2,592||$2,557||$1,973||$1,721|
|7||$1,480||$1,846 – $2,865||$2,826||$2,181||$1,903|
|8||$1,691||$2,109 – $3,274||$3,230||$2,493||$2,147|
|+1 each||$211||$264 – $409||$404||$312||$272|
Most EBT recipients will fall under the Typical category, since that’s the amount of the 48 contiguous states and Washington DC. In Alaska, there are actually three tiers of maximum benefits depending on whether you are living in an Urban, Rural 1 or Rural 2 area. We’ve included the Urban and Rural 2 amounts here since they are the highest and lowest rates.
The minimum benefits have increased.
Fifth, the minimum benefits have also increased. Many seniors and other low income households receive the bare minimum in benefits, which will be $23 for 2023.
Even if you don’t think it’s worth it because you’ll only get $23 or whatever, you really should consider applying. With an EBT card, you can get discounts on everything from Amazon Prime to zoo admission. We have all the details on that in our EBT freebies list.
The income limits have changed, making more people eligible!
Sixth, more people are eligible because the income limits have changed! The income limits have been adjusted for inflation so if you weren’t eligible before, you may be eligible now.
If you or someone you know hasn’t applied because you don’t think you’re eligible, please check those new income limits. You might be surprised – and those extra food dollars can make a huge difference in your health and the health of your family.
The asset limits have been adjusted.
Seventh, the asset limits have been changed. Along with those income limits, the asset limits have also been changed. The maximum asset limit for most households is now $2,750.
If you have someone in your household who is disabled or at least 60 years old, then your maximum asset limit is $4,250.
The deductions and other requirements have changed.
Eighth, the deductions and other requirements have also been adjusted. When the food stamps office calculates your income, they add it all together and remove certain deductions for your housing costs and other expenses. These deductions can offset your income and help you qualify for even more food money than you would’ve normally received.
Those deductions have also been adjusted for inflation, which can help you qualify for more benefits.
Pandemic-era waivers are ending soon.
Ninth, states are being encouraged to prepare for the end of the pandemic-era assistance programs. The USDA has been issuing memos reminding states that once the federal PHE ends, it’s game over for these extra waivers and extra benefits.
In some of the recent memos, states have been reminded that they need to be prepared to stop those extra payments, restart recertification interviews, and stop the temporary exemptions for students as well. It’s going to be a huge transition when this ends, both for those who rely on the program and those who administer it. Please be patient with your caseworkers through this process.
More states are adopting ESAP!
Tenth, more states are adopting ESAP applications for seniors and disabled adults! ESAP stands for Elderly Simplified Application Project, and it’s designed to make it easier for seniors and those with disabilities to get food benefits. The ESAP application is shorter and easier than normal, and it allows you to bypass a lot of extra paperwork.
Normally, people who apply with ESAP can enjoy their benefits for 36 months without interruption by recertification requirements. That’s because the ESAP application is exclusively for people with long-term disabilities on fixed incomes that aren’t likely to change.