How long will the increase in food stamps last? That’s the question on everyone’s mind, and fortunately we have an answer!
NOTE: This post is out of date. Please visit our October 2022 update for the latest information on this topic.
What is the increase in food stamps?
There have been several temporary and permanent increases to food stamps in the last few years. Since these programs have often overlapped, it can be very confusing.
In 2021, the government enacted a temporary 15% increase between April and September. As that was ending in October, the government enacted a permanent 27% increase when the Thrifty Food Plan was finally revised. This increase resulted in about $12-$16 more per person per month on average and was billed a “historic boost” to food stamps because it was the largest percentage increase to the program.
However, the biggest and most important increase to the food stamps program has been the result of the Emergency Allotment waivers that the USDA has been granting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a temporary increase that has boosted the amount of SNAP benefits that households receive while there is a federal emergency health declaration order in effect. Although this increase is temporary, some households have received this increase for more than two years.
Since the Emergency Allotments are the only increase that will change over time, that is what we will be discussing for the remainder of this article.
For the purposes of this article, we will be discussing the emergency allotments.
How long will the increase in food stamps last?
How long the increase in food stamps will last depends on what state you live in. In order to receive the increase, there are a few things that need to be in place:
There must be a federal health emergency declaration in effect.
The current policy only allows the increase in food stamps to be issued while there is a federal health emergency declaration in effect due to COVID-19.
The USDA will continue issuing emergency allotment waivers until the public health emergency declaration ends. The declaration lasts about 90 days. It was renewed in mid-July 2022 and the current public health emergency declaration is set to expire in mid-October 2022 unless it is renewed.
As long as the federal health emergency declaration remains in effect, eligible states can continue to issue the extra food stamps benefits. Whenever the health emergency declaration ends, states will have one additional month to issue extra “transition” benefits and then the amount will return to the lower pre-pandemic level.
There must be a state health emergency declaration in effect.
In order to be eligible, a state must have a state health emergency declaration in effect due to COVID-19. Some states ended their declarations very early, and others still have them in place. This is why some states are still issuing extra food stamps while others are not.
To find out if your state is still eligible and issuing extra benefits, you can check this state-by-state list.
The state must submit paperwork to the USDA every month.
Eligible states must submit paperwork to the USDA every month. This paperwork verifies that there is still a state emergency declaration due to COVID-19. The paperwork also includes the date that the increase will be sent and how many people will receive it.
States that end their emergency health orders are allowed to issue extra benefits for one more “transition” month before the increase ends. Usually, it will be noted on the paperwork if that state is entering their transition month.
Why do some states get extra food stamps but not others?
These emergency allotments are determined on a monthly basis and are only available in states with an emergency or disaster declaration.
In order to issue the emergency allotments, states must have an emergency or disaster declaration in effect. Some states have already ended their state-level emergency declaration, which means that people in those states are no longer able to receive the increase in food stamps. States that end their emergency declaration early can receive one additional transition month of increased food stamps before returning to their normal food stamp amounts.
How can I know if I’m getting extra food stamps this month?
Basically, the increase in food stamps will last until either one month after the federal public health emergency declaration ends or one month after your state’s public health emergency declaration ends, whichever comes first. To find out if you can expect the increased food stamps amount this month, check the schedule.
The US Department of Health and Human Services issued a memo pledging to provide States with 60 days’ notice before terminating the public health emergency declaration. That 60 days, in addition to the one-month transition period, means that SNAP households should know approximately three months before the increase in food stamps will end as long as their state doesn’t end the state public health emergency declaration sooner.
What is the purpose of the increase in food stamps?
The purpose of the emergency allotments is to alleviate the burden of extra food costs caused by the pandemic.
In a memo dated April 2021, the USDA wrote, “One year into the pandemic, USDA now believes that pandemic-related temporary food needs are unique and that the pandemic requires a unique response different from short-term relief disaster programs. As such, the agency has estimated that the current pandemic-related temporary food needs experienced by a typical household will be addressed by an additional benefit on top of the household’s standard monthly allotment. The Thrifty Food Plan was not intended for circumstances occasioned by a pandemic, which imposes additional limitations as to where households can shop safely and the variety of foods available to them.”
How much is the increase in food stamps?
The USDA has provided guidance to help states calculate the amount of the emergency allotment. According to that guidance, all households will receive at least $95 from the emergency allotment. However, some households will receive considerably more.
According to the USDA’s guidance, the increase in food stamps is calculated in three steps.
First, the households’ base SNAP benefit level is calculated using 115% of the Thrifty Food Plan (instead of the usual 100%).
Second, the household’s base SNAP benefit level is subtracted from the maximum benefit for their household size to find the difference. According to the USDA guideline, “the Emergency Allotment is the difference between the SNAP household’s base benefit calculation and the maximum benefit for the household size.” For example, if your base benefit calculation for Step 1 is $200 and the maximum benefit for your household size is $500, you’ll receive an emergency allotment of $300.
Finally, all households will receive an emergency allotment of at least $95. That means if the results of the second step are $94 or less, you’ll receive $95 automatically.
When will I get the increase in food stamps?
Every state sets their own schedule for the increase in food stamps. Some states send the emergency allotment with their regular benefit payment so that you receive all of your food stamps funds on one day. Other states issue them days or even weeks later as a separate payment. We have a state-by-state schedule that can help you figure out when you’ll get the increase payment.