Ops Memo 2011-14: SNAP: Cost-of-Living Changes


The cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is a mass change that is applied to the entire SNAP caseload. The COLA is usually effective on October 1 each year, coinciding with the beginning of the federal fiscal year. For various administrative reasons, the COLA has been postponed twice since October 2010. USDA has now mandated that all states apply the 2011COLA standards. This recalculation will impact the household’s monthly benefit for May.

SNAP eligibility charts and issuance tables remain unchanged, however, the following elements of the COLA will change effective May 1, 2011.

  • Shelter Deduction - The maximum shelter deduction (for households without an elderly or disabled member) has decreased to $458.
  • Standard Deduction for Household Sizes One, Two and Three: The standard deduction for household sizes one to three has increased to $142. The standard deduction for household sizes four and above remains unchanged.
  • Standard Utility Allowance (SUA)
    • The Heating/Cooling SUA has decreased to $575;
    • The Nonheating SUA has decreased to $353; and
    • The Phone SUA has decreased to $41.

Based on the significant reduction of the Heating/Cooling SUA and the Nonheating SUA, many SNAP households experienced a decrease in SNAP benefits when the new COLA figures were applied.

Unchanged COLA Charts, Tables and Figures

  • Gross, Net and 165 Percent Income Eligibility Standards - The Gross, Net and 165 Percent Income Eligibility Standards remain unchanged.
  • Maximum Benefit Levels - The maximum SNAP benefit levels for all household sizes remain unchanged.
  • Minimum Benefit Level - The minimum benefit level for eligible one- and two-person households remains at $16.
  • Homeless Shelter/Utility Deduction - The Homeless Shelter/Utility Deduction remains at $143.
  • Issuance Tables remain unchanged.


Attachment Size
OM 2011-14.pdf (59.33 KB) 59.33 KB