The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

SNAP Benefit Fluctuations/Cuts Coming Soon: Mass SNAP Recipients to Lose $95M in Federal FY 2014

The 2009 temporary boost to the SNAP program under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) is scheduled to sunset on November 1st. Massachusetts SNAP recipients are projected to lose over $95 Million in SNAP benefits in the remaining 11 months of FFY2014 – from November 1, 2013 through September 30, 2014.  As confirmed by our national anti-hunger partners, Congress is indeed unwilling to embrace President Obama’s request to enact legislation to continue this boost. In fact, as you know from Farm Bill updates, members of Congress are seeking to further reduce SNAP benefits with even more draconian cuts.

The Institute of Medicine and National Research Council released their 2013 joint report, SNAP: Examining the Evidence to Define Benefit Adequacy  (issue brief), which identifies the shortcomings of the current SNAP benefit allotment that fail to ensure low income households have enough resources to purchase food for an adequate diet.  The loss of the ARRA boost alone will only exacerbate that problem.

CBPP has just released an August 1st memo on the SNAP Benefits Cuts as of November 1st, detailing the history of the ARRA boost and cuts, as well as the projected fiscal impact for FFY2014 state by state – a $95 million dollar cut for the 889K SNAP individuals in MA. Their CBPP memo gives helpful recommendations to states and anti-hunger advocates on planning for the ARRA cuts.

On August 1st, USDA released SNAP revised tables which announced both increases in certain deductions for October 1st and decreases in the SNAP allotment due to the ARRA COLA rollback - starting November 1st.  Punch line?  It’s gonna be very confusing for SNAP recipients!   

  • On October 1st, the “standard deduction” will increase from $149 to $152 for households of 1-3 persons; from $160 to $163 for HHs of 4, etc. And the maximum “shelter deduction” (for non-elder/disabled households) will increase from $469 to $478.  
  • On November 1st, the maximum SNAP benefit allotment will DROP by $5.4% - triggering a cut of $29/month in SNAP for family of four!

The chart below gives you a month by month “SNAP shot” of the anticipated increases and decreases in SNAP benefits for households of 1 to 4 persons, using the USDA charts and assumptions below.

 

 

Household size & sample gross monthly earnings

SNAP for Sept 2013

Current deductions & benefit levels.

 

SNAP for Oct 2013

Increase in standard deduction and max shelter deduction

SNAP for Nov 2013  thru Sept 2014

ARRA rollback cut of %5.4% on SNAP benefit s

Amount of SNAP drop in benefits as of Nov 2014.

1 person 

$1,000/mo

$145

$149

$138

-          $11

2 person

$1,500/mo

$192

$196

$176

-          $20

3 person

$2,000/mo

$231

$235

$206

-          $29

4 person

$2,500/mo 

$257

$260

$224

-          $36

** SNAP math above assumes: a) no elder or disabled household member; b)  household gets max shelter deduction (private unsubsidized housing), and c) no dependent care nor child support deduction.

The Food SNAP Coalition has discussed the ARRA cuts a number of times and raised with DTA the possibility of sending out simplified notices to SNAP recipients preparing them for the ARRA benefits reduction, as well as advising and screening SNAP households for deductions they may not be claiming: working households for dependent care cost and elder/disabled households for out-of-pocket medical expenses. We will get more information and updated client materials out on these important deductions in the weeks ahead.

Meanwhile, please start having conversations with your SNAP outreach staff and SNAP clients about these benefit changes. They will likely become quite confused by the small October increase, followed by a larger November decrease.  It’s an opportunity not only to screen clients for all deductions and double check their SNAP math, but also encourage them to talk with elected officials about why SNAP is so important and why Congress should make NO CUTS to SNAP in the Farm Bill ! 

This post  is attached as a pdf document too.