By Patricia L Johnson
November 1, 2013 is the day the increased benefits to the SNAP/Food Stamp benefit program in effect since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 are reduced by approximately 5.5 percent.
Decreased benefits are dependent upon the size of the household as follows:
1 person – $11
2 people – $20
3 people – $29
4 people – $36
That may not sound like much to the majority of us, but to a person or family trying to get by on limited funds, the decrease will have a major impact on their lives.
Is there anything at all these people can do to increase their SNAP benefits once the Congressional cuts go into effect?
Benefits are based on income and the amount of deductions a person and/or family can claim reduces their income; thereby increasing their SNAP benefits. If you know an individual and/or family on SNAP please make sure they are aware of the following deductions:
MEDICAL EXPENSES – If a member of a SNAP household is age 60 or older or is disabled, SNAP benefits may increase if all out-of-pocket medical costs are provided to the SNAP agency providing benefits. Expenses include insurance premiums, copayments, medical equipment and transportation to and from medical providers.
CHILD CARE EXPENSES – If a member of a SNAP household has out-of-pocket childcare expenses consisting of fees, co-pays, afterschool care and transportation and these deductions are brought up to the SNAP agency providing benefits, their monthly benefit may be increased.
Is there additional assistance available? YES – An individual or family may qualify for reduced and/or free school meals, afterschool meals, WIC, emergency food assistance and/or home delivered meals.
Have questions on the SNAP program? Contact the USDA United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service for your individual state. Please note most states have toll free numbers. A double asterisk on the listing indicates those states that will accept collect calls.
CBPP, The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that only a maximum of 4 percent of SNAP beneficiaries claim dependent care, child support and/or medical expenses against earnings. Please help to get the word out to all beneficiaries that these deductions may be beneficial to them.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, three of every four households on SNAP, or 75 percent of SNAP households in 2010 (last year data available) included a child, a person age 60 or over, or a disabled person.
Here’s a little something to think about. Increasing the SNAP benefits to the same levels they were under ARRA would cost taxpayers approximately $6 billion dollars and provide benefits to roughly 45 million.
The recent government shutdown initiated by our Tea-Party Republican controlled House of Representatives are estimated to cost approximately $24 billion dollars and benefited absolutely no one.
According to CBPP, at least 17 percent of the population in the following 17 States [and District of Columbia] are receiving benefits through the SNAP program: AZ, AR, DE, DC, FL, GA, KY, LA, ME, MI, MS, NM, NC, OK, RI, SC, TN, WV.
What can you do to help? Donate to your local food bank if at all possible.
© 2013 Patricia L Johnson