The nation’s food stamp program, known officially as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), will be effectively raising the maximum standard allotment limits for all household sizes in 2023.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service sets the guidelines for the state administered SNAP program, which helps feed more than 40 million Americans.
For 2023, the average family of four living in the 48 contiguous states and DC., will see their maximum allotment rise to $939 from $835 in the prior year. This is a 12% YoY adjustment. See other household size increases in the 2023 maximum allotment tables later in this article.
Additional SNAP Emergency allotments (EA) which provided a “pandemic” boost to existing recipients ended in February with final payments disbursed in March 2023. See sections below for more details.
There could however be additional restrictions and reduction in SNAP benefits, based on legislation being passed in Congress around raising the debt ceiling.
Republicans have passed a bill that would raise the age limit from 50 to 56 years old for work requirements, that affect qualification for SNAP benefits from 2024. Not meeting the minimum of 20 hours a week requirement over a three-month period would reduce or cancel food stamp benefits.
However there is little chance the bill will pass in its current format via the Democrat controlled Senate and President Biden has already signaled he would veto any spending cuts tied to the debt ceiling increase.
But in an effort to reach some kind of compromise, rules around the SNAP program could be adjusted in future years. I’ll post updates as they are finalized.
Eligibility and Applying for SNAP
The SNAP program follows federal guidelines, but household eligibility is based on certain requirements (like income thresholds shown below) are determined and paid by the relevant state agency when you apply for benefits.
Your state agency or local SNAP office will generally process your application within 30 days and send you a letter confirming your eligibility and duration for receiving benefits.
Your state SNAP agency may conduct additional verification of your information during the application period and follow-up with additional questions, if needed. So ensure you respond promptly to any calls or official notices.
All benefits are back-dated to when you submit your application for benefits and you will be paid any retroactive benefits in your first deposit.
When Are SNAP benefits paid?
While the program is federally funded, it is administered by each state. You will need to see your state’s SNAP/Food Stamp page (google it) for when your state is supposed to automatically load your benefits onto the states approved Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) debit card.
Generally it is based on your first or last name and loaded by your state agency on pre-set dates every month.
You can use your EBT card to buy approved groceries and related items at stores and retailers. This includes the following:
|Approved SNAP Items||You cannot use SNAP for the following items|
|– Fruits and vegetables;|
– Meat, poultry, and fish;
– Dairy products;
– Breads and cereals;
– Other foods such as snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages; and
Seeds and plants, which produce food for the household to eat.
|– Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco|
– Vitamins, medicines, and supplements.
– Most Live animals
– Prepared Foods fit for immediate consumption
– Hot foods
Any nonfood items such as: Pet foods, Cleaning supplies, paper products, and hygiene items
2023 Maximum SNAP Benefits
The table below shows the maximum SNAP monthly allotment by household size for the 48 states and D.C. It is effective for the 2023 fiscal year period covering October 1, 2022, through to September 30, 2023
|Household Size||Maximum Monthly Allotment|
|Each Additional Member||$211|
The minimum benefit for the 48 states and D.C. will increase to $23 and will also increase in Alaska, Guam, Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
2023 Income Eligibility Standards
The USDA has also finalized the following monthly income eligibility standards tables for FY 2023.
Generally, your household must meet both the gross and net income limits described below to be eligible for SNAP benefits. The exception is for households with an elderly or disabled person, which only has to meet the net income limit.
Calculation of actual SNAP allotment
Your maximum SNAP allotment could be lower than than the maximum, even if you meet income thresholds above, because SNAP households are expected to spend about 30% of their own resources on food. This note include the temporary pandemic SNAP benefit discussed below.
Your actual allotment is calculated by multiplying your household’s net monthly income by 0.3, and subtracting the result from the maximum monthly allotment for your household size.
So for example, if Mary and Joe, who have 3 kids make $2,000 in net monthly income, their actual allocation will be $3,518 (5 person household max allotment) – 30%*2000 minus = $2,918.
SNAP EA Pandemic Payments – 2023 Emergency Allotments and Schedule
The 15% (minimum of $95) SNAP pandemic emergency boost, or emergency allotment (EA), has now ended and those states that were still participating in this program will be making final, mainly catch-up or retroactive, payments in March and April.
See more around future SNAP changes and emergency allotment updates in this YT video.
Will Extra SNAP EA Benefits Be Paid After March 2023?
No. Pandemic-era expansions (emergency allotments) of the SNAP program, including free school meal benefits were not funded in the 2023 government spending omnibus bill and will expire in March 2023.
This will mean an at least $95 monthly SNAP benefits cut to eligible households in states where the extra emergency allotments are being paid (see list above).
Households that received both SNAP and Social Security benefits may also experience a significant decrease in their “normal” SNAP benefits after the EA allotments expire, due to the record COLA for Social Security benefits (which impact SNAP income limits) that took effect at the start of this year.
As a result older adults and seniors could see their monthly SNAP benefits cut to just $23 on average as the pandemic SNAP/food stamp EA benefits are phased-out.
$40 Summer EBT Grocery Benefit for Kids (from 2024)
While SNAP emergency allotments were not extended, a new program was (permanently) funded in the omnibus bill that provides a $40 per month grocery benefit for kids, starting in the summer of 2024.
Children would be eligible for $40 grocery benefit – paid via reloadable debit cards – during the summer of 2024. Enrollment would be automatic for kids who already qualify for free or reduced price school meals.
The grocery benefit will be adjusted for inflation and will increase over time. It is estimated that this program, the largest such program in over 50 years, will help over 30 million children and significantly reduce hunger and food insecurity for lower income families.
Prior Year Updates
2022 Maximum SNAP Benefits
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which manages the SNAP program, under direction from the Biden administration confirmed the 2022 increase which reflects higher costs for a nutritious diet in line with rising food prices.
This will bring the average FY 2022 total monthly benefit to $169 and marks the largest ever permanent increase (25%) of food aid available to needy families.
The table below shows the maximum SNAP monthly allotment by household size. It is effective for the period covering October 1, 2021 – September 30, 2022.
|Household Size||Maximum Monthly Allotment|
|Each Additional Member||$188|
[2020 Update] Under President Biden’s new economic agenda he has signed an executive order instructing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow states to increase SNAP (food stamp) benefits by 15%. Per the update below, Congress had boosted the maximum SNAP benefit by 15%, but that did not help the 40% of SNAP recipients who were already at the maximum benefit. If states follow the updated guidance an additional 12 million people would get the enhanced benefits.
As part of his American Rescue Plan proposal, President Biden is calling on Congress to provide additional support to ensure that all Americans, regardless of background, have access to healthy, affordable groceries….to help women, infants and children get the food they need. USDA will consider issuing new guidance that would allow states to increase SNAP emergency allotments for those who need it most.
2020 – 2021 COVID Relief Bill Increase (Congress passed)
Under the recently passed $900 billion COVID relief bill, $13 billion of additional funding was allocated to the SNAP/Food stamp program, which increases the maximum benefits through the food assistance program through June 30, 2021. The main benefit, which was missing from the original stimulus bill, is an across-the-board 15% increase in monthly SNAP benefits for the next six months, starting January. 1st 2021. This will benefit approximately 43 million Americans receiving food stamps. The package also expands eligibility for SNAP benefits to lower income college students, while the elderly will see a boost in funding for the Older Americans Act nutrition programs ($175 million).
[Sep 2020] With no new stimulus package currently approved by a divided Congress, the following are COVID SNAP adjustments still available:
Emergency Allotments (EA): States can issue emergency supplements to SNAP households that normally receive less than the maximum benefit.
Pandemic EBT (P-EBT): States can provide benefits (similar to SNAP or “food stamps”) to children who normally receive free or reduced-price school meals.
SNAP Online Purchasing: The Food and Nutrition services (FNS) department has rapidly expanded SNAP online purchasing to support social distancing, bringing access to nearly three-quarters of the states, covering 90% of SNAP households.
Extend certification periods for up to 6 months and adjust periodic report requirements for some or all households,. This option is only available to households with certification periods set to expire or periodic reports due on or before June 30, 2021.
[Update on Additional SNAP benefits] Under the recently proposed HEROs act House Democrats have included a provision is to boost the maximum SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) payment benefit by 15%. This is designed to help low income earners deal with the rising cost of food as a result of supply chain disruption and production shortages.
The HEROs act and included provisions will likely go through a lot of debates and changes due to strong opposition from moderate Democrats and Republicans who worry about the ballooning federal deficit. But if the economy does not improve and unemployment does not fall or there is a significant resurgence of the Coronavirus later this year then it seems almost certain a second stimulus package will be passed. I will post updates as they come to light.
Additional funding has been provided under the CARE stimulus bill, that provides some critical program funding for many middle and lower income American families. Key provisions include:
Child nutrition: $8.8 billion was provided for schools to give more flexibility around providing meals for students. Most areas where schools have been closed are now offering up to 2 free meals per day for school aged children. Another $450 million was provided for food banks and other community food distribution programs.
Food stamps/SNAP: $15.5 billion is going to the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) to cover the cost of new applications to the program as a result of the coronavirus. Note however this does not increase monthly benefits, rather it just provides additional federal funding for the likely surge in new applicants. Many wanted the wanted the minimum SNAP benefit to be doubled (to $30 per month) and a 20% raise in the maximum benefit.
It is likely that more relief will come to the above program in the next stimulus, so please subscribe via the options below to get the latest updates.