How long will the increase in food stamps last? That’s the question that everyone is asking and for good reason. We’ve been repeatedly warned that the extra benefits will eventually disappear and it’s important to be able to plan ahead.
Why did we get an increase in food stamps?
There are three main reasons why people are seeing an increase to their food stamps benefits:
- There is an annual COLA increase that happens every October.
- Many states are still distributing Emergency Allotments due to the pandemic-related emergency health declarations.
- Some users are receiving P-EBT or other EBT-related benefits in addition to their usual SNAP funds.
Each of these have different end dates, which can make it difficult to answer “how long will the increase in food stamps last?” with a simple sentence.
The COLA increase happens every year.
The Cost of Living Adjustment is intended to adjust your benefits to account for inflation. Inflation increases the cost of living, which decreases the buying power of your benefits.
According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, “prices for groceries (food to be prepared or eaten at home) rose 12.2 percent for the 12 months ending June 2022. That’s the largest 12-month increase since April 1979.”
If you feel like your food stamps aren’t going as far as they used to, you’re not alone. The CBPP reported that the cost of the Thrifty Food Plan (which is what the food stamps amounts are based on) was $939.90 per month for a family of four in June 2022, compared to just $835 in the previous June. That’s a difference of more than $100 per month to feed a family of four.
That’s why the USDA issues an annual COLA adjustment for food stamps. On October 1 of every year, the amount you receive will be adjusted to account for these higher costs. If you’re asking “how long will the increase in food stamps last?” about the COLA, the answer is that it will last until October of next year when the next increase goes into effect.
In 2022, the COLA increase is resulting in the following changes:
- The maximum amount of food stamps you can receive for your household size will increase.
- The minimum food stamps amount will increase. For the 48 states and DC, the minimum amount will increase from $20 to $23.
- The amount of deductions and income adjustments will also change.
On average, the amount of food stamps you receive will increase approximately 12.5% as a result of the 2022 COLA increase. That’s about $104 for a family of four.
The following chart reflects the increase in the maximum benefits for a family of 4 for the next calendar year.
Maximum SNAP Benefits by Household Size for Fiscal Year 2023
|Household Size||48 States + DC||Alaska||Hawaii||Guam||Virgin Islands|
Emergency Allotments are ending in many states.
The most dramatic increase in food stamps benefits has been the result of the Emergency Allotment waivers that have been issued to alleviate poverty during the pandemic. This program has allowed states to bring most people to the maximum benefit for their household size. It has also ensured that everyone receives at least $95/month from food stamps.
In order for a state to continue issuing extra benefits under the Emergency Allotment waivers, two things need to be true:
- There must be a federal public health emergency declaration in effect.
- There must be a state public health emergency declaration in effect.
The current federal public health emergency declaration lasts until October 15, 2022. However, the federal government has agreed to notify states 60 days before the public health emergency ends so it is expected that the declaration will be renewed again.
For example, the Idaho Director of Health and Welfare stated, “The federal government has agreed to notify states 60 days before it ends. Since that has not happened, it is expected that the PHE will be renewed again in October.”
Each renewal lasts for 90 days, which would mean that these expanded benefits could continue until January 15, 2023, before the decision to renew again would need to be made.
When the federal public health emergency declaration ends, states will be allowed to issue one additional “transition” month of higher benefits before the amount returns to the lower pre-pandemic amount. This would mean that states could issue these higher benefits until February 15, 2023. Since some states are one month behind, some states could continue until March.
Why do some states get more food stamps than others?
Some states have already ended their state-level public health emergency declaration and are therefore not eligible to issue the Emergency Allotment amounts. EBT users in those states have already returned to the lower pre-pandemic amounts.
Other states have continued to renew their state public health emergency declarations. When a declaration is still in effect on both the federal and state level, those states can continue issuing the extra benefits to their EBT users.
This is why EBT users in some states are getting significantly higher benefits than EBT users in other states.
Participating states have to submit monthly paperwork.
States that are continuing to issue extra food benefits need to renew their paperwork with the USDA every month. That’s how we track which states are getting extra benefits and when.
However, some states are very slow with their paperwork. The paperwork isn’t even due until the 15th of the month in which the benefits are issued, so sometimes it can take a while to know which states are still participating.
How long will this increase in food stamps last?
The Emergency Allotment increase in food stamps will last until either one month after the federal public health emergency ends or one month after your state’s public health emergency declaration ends, whichever comes first.
If your state continues issuing those benefits until the federal emergency health declaration ends, you should have about three month’s advance notice before those benefits end. That’s because the US Department of Health and Human Services has pledged to provide states with 60 days’ notice before terminating the public health emergency declaration and states will be able to issue one final transition benefit after they end.