NEWS

Written by: Department of Children & Family Services

Other Stimulus Provisions May Make More Post-Secondary Students and Louisianans Eligible for Benefits 

Recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will see an increase in their benefits for the first six months of 2021, following passage of the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act. The recently enacted federal legislation may also make more Louisianans eligible for SNAP by excluding both federal unemployment benefits and stimulus checks from consideration as income and expanding student eligibility.

The federal appropriations bill, signed by President Trump on Dec. 27, 2020, included a provision increasing SNAP maximum allotments by roughly 15% for January through June 2021, in response to the continuing coronavirus pandemic. The additional benefits for January will be loaded onto current Louisiana SNAP recipients’ EBT cards on Friday, January 8. For February through June, the extra benefits will be loaded at the same time as recipients’ regular benefit amount on their regularly scheduled issuance date.

The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), which has responded to an unprecedented food need since the pandemic began, also received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to issue supplemental SNAP benefits for the month of January, bringing all households up to the maximum benefit amount for their household size. This will be the 11th consecutive month Louisiana has issued the emergency allotments due to the pandemic. The emergency supplements will be loaded on recipients’ EBT cards on Friday, January 8.

  • Maximum allotments will increase by roughly 15%, and the minimum allotment will increase from $16 to $19.
  • The temporary increase will be in effect from January through June of 2021.
  • For February through June, the additional benefits will be issued along with each household’s regular issuance amount on their regularly-scheduled issuance date.

Increased SNAP Allotments

The amount of SNAP a household receives each month depends on the number of people in the household and the amount of their net income. The regular maximum SNAP allotments for 2021, along with the temporary increased maximums, are as follows:

Household Size Maximum Allotment Max Allotment for Jan.-June 2021
1 $204 $234
2 $374 $430
3 $535 $616
4 $680 $782
5 $807 $929
6 $969 $1,114
7 $1,071 $1,232
8 $1,224 $1,408
Each additional member $153 $176

Changes Affecting SNAP Eligibility

Other provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2021 may make more Louisianans eligible for SNAP.

Unlike the CARES Act in 2020, the latest legislation excludes the federal pandemic unemployment benefits ($300 weekly) from consideration as income or resources in determining SNAP eligibility. (State unemployment benefits would still be counted.) Receipt of federal unemployment benefits resulted in 44,165 (15.7%) of the 281,289 households who applied for SNAP between March and July of last year being denied food assistance, as the boost in unemployment benefits pushed those families over the income limit. Another 2,185 households who had been receiving SNAP saw their cases closed because of it. This time, the additional federal benefits will not be counted.

Stimulus checks, also known as Economic Impact Payments, will also be excluded from the eligibility calculation, just as they were with the first round of stimulus.

In addition, eligibility for college students has been expanded to include those who are enrolled at least half-time and are either eligible to participate in work study or have an expected family contribution of $0 in the current academic year, as determined by the institution of higher education. Previously, students from families with an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0 were not automatically eligible for SNAP. The new law changes that. Pending further guidance from FNS, students will need to provide either their FAFSA paperwork which includes their EFC or their proof of eligibility for work study to DCFS when applying for SNAP.

  • The $300 boost in federal pandemic unemployment benefits will NOT be counted as income or resources in determining SNAP eligibility.
    • This is different than the 1st round, under the CARES Act that passed last spring.
    • State unemployment benefits will still be counted in determining SNAP eligibility.
  • The $600 stimulus checks also won’t be counted as income or resources. Same as under the CARES Act.
  • College students enrolled at least half-time and either have an expected parental contribution of $0 or are eligible for work-study are now eligible for SNAP.
    • Before, $0 parental contribution was not enough for automatic eligibility.
    • Students should be prepared to provide their FAFSA paperwork or proof of eligibility for work-study when applying for SNAP.

SNAP Interviews, Simplified Reports, Redeterminations

This fall, DCFS has been operating under federal waivers to allow staff to focus on additional applications associated with hurricanes and the pandemic. Some of these waivers will continue in 2021. Others will come to a close, as follows:

  • All SNAP Interviews Suspended Through June 30, 2021. DCFS will not conduct formal SNAP interviews until at least July 1, 2021. This includes interviews for new SNAP applications, simplified reports and annual redeterminations.
  • “No interviews” doesn’t mean automatic SNAP approval. To be considered for SNAP, you must first fully complete your application! DCFS staff cannot determine SNAP eligibility unless they have all the information they need to process an application. It’s important for you to include all income and resource information and respond quickly to any questions. If staff need more, they will contact you. Any missing information will affect your eligibility and lengthen the time it takes to approve your application.
  • SNAP Simplified Reports Resume in January 2021. After a three-month extension, SNAP simplified reports will resume in January. SNAP families whose simplified reports are due in January will receive a letter from DCFS in late December.
  • SNAP Redeterminations (Annual Recertifications) Resume in February 2021. Annual SNAP redeterminations begin again in February. DCFS will send letters in January to anyone who is scheduled for a February redetermination.

For more information about SNAP benefits changes, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/page/snap-updates. Information about applying for SNAP can be found at www.dcfs.la.gov/snap.

Written by: Department of Children & Family Services, http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/ 

SNAP Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its agencies, offices and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, religious creed, disability, age, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the agency (state or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form (AD-3027) found online at: How to File a Complaint, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

  1. Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;
  2. Fax: (202) 690-7442; or
  3. Email: program.intake@usda.gov

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