Why are extra SNAP payments (Emergency Allotments) ending?
Congress and the USDA gave states the option, starting early in the pandemic, to give SNAP households the maximum allotment of benefits for their household size, regardless of their income. Under normal rules, benefits are calculated based on household size, income, and expenses. States had to elect the option to provide the Emergency Allotment on a monthly basis, and Gov. Greg Abbott consistently opted in.
The Emergency Allotments were set to expire with the end of the Public Health Emergency. Although the Public Health Emergency hasn’t ended yet, the Omnibus Appropriations Bill passed in December by Congress will end the Emergency Allotments early, partially to offset the cost of a new Summer “EBT” (Electronics Benefits Transfer) program for low-income families with kids.
What does this mean for Texans receiving SNAP benefits?
February 2023 will be the final month of SNAP Emergency Allotments. Starting in March, Texans will only receive their regular SNAP payment loaded onto their EBT card. All Texas SNAP recipients will be impacted by the end of emergency allotments.
Every SNAP household will experience a MINIMUM reduction of $95 in their monthly benefit amount, with some households experiencing a much higher reduction. HHSC estimates that in total, Texas will experience a roughly $340 million decrease in benefits from February to March.
HHSC will send individualized notices to each SNAP household, which will inform clients on how to check their regular benefit amount. If you are a SNAP participant you can find out what your regular monthly benefit amount will be by logging in to your account on YourTexasBenefits.com or the mobile app and going to Case Details, or by calling 2-1-1, Option 2.
This will be a significant loss of food assistance for the 3.6 million Texans who participate in SNAP. The loss is coming on top of a sharp increase in the cost of food and utilities, which has already led to an increase in people seeking emergency food from food banks.
Update your information with HHSC.
Without the SNAP Emergency Allotment, benefits are calculated based on household size, income, and expenses. Texans should report up-to-date information as soon as possible so that they are receiving all benefits for which they are eligible.
Texans can update their information and report changes in one of the following ways:
- Go to YourTexasBenefits.com, log in to your account and find the case you want to make changes to. Select Details, then Open Change Report.
- Use the YourTexasBenefits mobile app (free on the Apple App or Google Play Store).
- Visit your local HHSC benefits office to report changes in person. Find an office at https://bit.ly/3ihOK4n.
- Call 2-1-1 and select option 2 to update information.
Texans can take steps to maximize their SNAP benefits.
Although every SNAP recipient will experience a decrease in benefits, there are things that many households can do to maximize their SNAP eligibility and allotment levels.
Take Advantage of Deductions
For people with disabilities and seniors aged 60 and older, any out-of-pocket medical expenses (over $35) result in a standard medical expense deduction of $170 for the recipient. Expenses that can be considered include costs such as over-the-counter medication (including aspirin, ibuprofen, medicated creams, etc.) when approved by a licensed practitioner or other qualified health professional, transportation to the doctor’s office or drug store to buy medications, dentures, hearing aids, incontinent supplies, costs related to specially trained service animals, and more.
Households may also deduct monthly shelter costs that exceed 50 percent of the income remaining after other deductions. If a person’s shelter costs have increased, they should report that change to HHSC.
If applicable, child support payments should also be reported to maximize benefits.
These deductions can increase your monthly SNAP allotment.
Use Double Up Food Bucks
Texans can use their SNAP EBT Card across the state to get more fruits and vegetables with Double Up Food Bucks. Double Up Bucks matches SNAP benefits $1 for $1 at participating farmers’ markets, farm stands, mobile markets, and grocery stores across Texas. Because the program doubles the purchasing power of SNAP, Double Up Bucks help households stretch their SNAP benefits. Texans can find a participating location here: https://doubleuptexas.org/find-a-location/
Food banks cannot make up for a loss of this magnitude.
Although Texas food banks cannot make up for a loss of this magnitude, we are doing everything we can to prepare families for the decrease in benefits, alert them to emergency food resources in their communities, and connect them to other services to help them meet their basic needs.
There are 21 food banks in the Feeding Texas network, and they reach every county in Texas through a network of thousands of local partners.
Feeding Texas runs a statewide application assistance program in partnership with HHSC. Every Texas food bank has trained staff who can assist households in applying for benefits and reporting changes to HHSC. We can also refer clients to our Referral Partner Program, which connects people to additional resources.
Find your local food bank here: www.feedingtexas.org/get-help/
You can download a flyer with information on the end of SNAP Emergency Allotments here to help publicize this change in your communities.