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What Happens When Your Food Stamp Case is Closed?

What Happens When Your Food Stamp Case is Closed?

If you’re worried about what happens when your food stamp case is closed, relax! It’s not nearly as scary as it sounds. There are many reasons why your case may be closed and in most cases, you can reapply without any issues.

I know it can be very stressful when you don’t receive your benefits when you expect them. When my family relied on food stamps, I would always worry until that deposit hit because I didn’t have any other way to feed my kids. If you’re in that situation and you’re worried about getting food right away, we’ve found several ways you can get free food and other forms of assistance that can help.

How do I know if my food stamp case is closed?

Often, a missed deposit is the first indication that people have that their food stamp case is closed. That’s devastating for a lot of families, so make sure you know how to get free food if you need it.

If you have kept your contact information up-to-date with the office, then you will usually receive a few letters before your food stamp case is closed. If it’s closed due to a missed recertification, you will often get several warning letters before your recertification date arrives.

If you don’t get your food stamps benefits when you expect them, it’s usually wise to wait a few days just to be sure because weekends and holidays can mess up the food stamps schedule. In the meantime, check your deposit history to make sure that you didn’t lose your benefits to a scammer! If a few days go by without a deposit, you’ll need to contact the office to be sure.

Why is my food stamp case closed?

There are many reasons that your food stamp case may be closed and it may not be your fault. Let’s go over some of the common reasons that these cases close.

You didn’t complete your recertification paperwork in time.

In order to continue receiving food stamps, you have to recertify your eligibility every six months or so. This means that you have to submit new paperwork to the office verifying your income and expenses.

If you did not complete that paperwork in time, then your case may be closed at the end of your current certification period. The good news is that if this happens, it’s usually very easy to reopen your case by reapplying for benefits. If you reapply in the same month that your benefits end, you may not even experience an interruption in benefits at all.

The office has a paperwork backlog.

Many states have been overwhelmed by a paperwork backlog starting in 2022. That’s because the federal government did not require states to do all of their recertification paperwork through the pandemic. The government offices were short-staffed and they wanted to make sure people had the benefits they needed, so the federal government waived requirements for interviews and other processes that are usually required for recertification.

Unfortunately, now that those pandemic-era waivers are ending, states now have to complete those interviews and slog through all the paperwork that has built up over the years. In some areas, that is causing a massive backlog that is creating delays in the certification process.

That means that even if you did your paperwork in time, your food stamp case may be closed just because the office hasn’t had time to process that paperwork yet. It’s not your fault, but it can leave your household without benefits for a short time while they work through their backlogs.

You didn’t use your benefits for a long time.

If you don’t use your food stamps for a while, your food stamp case may be closed because the office will assume that you don’t need them. After all, if you needed them then you would use them, right?

Typically, your benefits will be removed from your card 274 days after they are deposited. If you don’t use your benefits for 9 months, then your case will usually be closed automatically.

You were disqualified for some reason.

Of course, some food stamp cases are closed because the recipient is disqualified. This is very rare, though. It usually only applies to people who have participated in some form of fraud or who have broken the rules of the program in some way.

For example, Washington Administrative Code 388-446-0020 describes the different ways that food stamps recipients can be disqualified from food stamps due to an Intentional Program Violation (IPV). Your food stamp case may be closed due to disqualification if you commit certain crimes, such as being convicted of trading food stamps benefits for drugs or weapons. You may also have your case closed if you sell your benefits, provide false identification or receive benefits in more than one state.

According to the Washington State government, if you are disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits in one state then you will not be able to receive those benefits in any state.

What happens when my food stamp case is closed?

What happens when your food stamp case is closed will depend on the reason for the closure. Unless you are disqualified, you can still spend the benefits that have accrued on your card and you can usually reapply immediately.

You can still spend your benefits.

Even if your food stamps case is closed, you can still spend the benefits that have been deposited on your card. Massachusetts Legal Services said, “If your SNAP case is closed for some reason, you still have the right to use any remaining benefits in your EBT account before the case closed.”

However, it’s important to note that the government will remove any benefits that remain after 274 days of unuse. If your case is closed because you were not actively using your card, there may not be any benefits left to spend.

You can usually reapply right away.

Unless you were disqualified, you can usually request reinstatement or reapply for food benefits immediately. Reinstatements must be requested in the same month that your case was closed. Otherwise, you’ll typically have to reapply.

For more information on how to reopen your case, please view the section below titled “How do I reopen my case?”

If you were disqualified, you cannot reapply.

However, if your case was closed due to disqualification, you will not be able to receive food stamps again for a certain period of time. Some disqualifications last only a few months while others may be permanent.

For example, in Washington State, the disqualification period ranges from months to years depending on the offense. Trading benefits for a controlled substance carries a 24 month disqualification for the first offense. Receiving benefits in more than one state carries a 10 year disqualification on the first offense (or a permanent disqualification on the third offense).

If you are disqualified, you will have to wait until the disqualification period is over before you can reapply.

How can I reopen my case?

As long as you haven’t been disqualified, reopening your case is usually as easy as applying for food stamps again. While the paperwork can be tedious, it’s easy to find the applications online. You don’t even need to go into the office.

If you are able to reapply in the same month that your benefits ended, you may be able to ask for a reinstatement instead. According to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, your case may be eligible for reinstatement as long as (1) the case is reopened within the current certification period and (2) the household received benefits the month before the case was effectively closed.

When will I get more food stamps?

If your case is closed and you are reinstated quickly, benefits will usually be received very quickly and continue on your usual schedule. The amount of time it takes for you to get more food stamps will depend on how quickly you turn in your information.

If your case is closed and you have to completely reapply, the process is a little longer. Some states will issue emergency benefits right away if you are in a crisis situation, even if they haven’t fully processed your paperwork. It’s important to make sure you turn in all of your documentation right away so that you can get those benefits as soon as possible.

Of course, the speed at which you receive your benefits will also depend on how much paperwork the office is dealing with. If they have a backlog, it can take a while… but usually, you’ll receive your money within about 10 days.

How can I make sure it doesn’t happen again?

Interruptions in your food benefits can be so stressful and scary! I know because I experienced it firsthand. It was terrifying!

The good news is that you can be proactive and make sure that your family doesn’t face this uncertainty again. What you need to do will depend on the exact reason your food stamp case is closed, but here are some general tips.

First, don’t break the rules. As long as you abide by the rules of the food stamps program, you should never have to worry about being disqualified. Don’t sell your benefits. Don’t trade them for non-food items, especially drugs or weapons. Being honest can eliminate a lot of stress.

Second, make sure you keep your address updated with the food stamps office. You need to be able to receive the letters they send you. As long as you are able to receive those letters, you should always get a warning before your food stamp case is closed (unless it’s for disqualification, of course).

Third, make sure you complete any required interviews or verifications as soon as possible. Since the state may have a backlog, it’s important to do your part as fast as you can. That way, they have as much time as possible to process it before the deadline. If you wait until the last minute, you may end up with a temporarily closed case while they work the paperwork pile.

Fourth, make sure you use your benefits often. People who are receiving the minimum amount of benefits often let their benefits roll over for a few months before spending them. It helps you save money when you can buy in bulk. However, if you wait too long, the office will assume you don’t need those benefits any more and will cancel your account. Always set alarms in your phone to make sure that you’re regularly using those benefits.

Don’t forget your EBT discounts!

If you have an EBT card, you can get over 1,000 discounts and deals. Don’t throw your card away, even if your food stamp case is closed, until you’ve checked over our list of EBT discounts that you may able to get!

Nicole is the owner and lead researcher for Low Income Relief. She has over 20 years of professional research and writing experience, and she has been solely dedicated to investigating low income topics for the last 10 years. Nicole started Low Income Relief after a personal experience with poverty. When her husband was medically discharged from the US Army, their family experienced tremendous financial hardship. Nicole was able to gather help from multiple community agencies and move into a nearby low income housing unit in just two weeks! Since then, Nicole has been dedicated to helping low income families in crisis. She regularly spends hundreds of hours combing through countless resources to make sure that Low Income Relief has the most comprehensive and complete resource directories on the internet today. Prior to starting Low Income Relief, Nicole worked as a novelist, journalist, ghostwriter and content creator. Her work has been featured in various print and online publications, including USA Today, The Daily Herald, The Chronicle and more. Her work has also been featured by Google for Publishers and other leading industry publications.