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Ops Memo 2013-51: SNAP: Annual Cost-of-Living (COLA) Changes and Initial Communication Regarding November Benefit Decrease

Date: 
09/20/2013
Author: 
DTA

Overview
The annual SNAP COLA will be processed during the weekend of September 21, 2013. This is a mass change affecting the entire SNAP caseload. This recalculation will impact the household’s monthly benefit for October.

The following elements of the COLA will change effective October 1, 2013.

  • Shelter Deduction - The maximum shelter deduction (for households without an elderly or disabled member) will increase to $478.
  • Standard Deduction will increase for all household sizes.
    AU Size Old Standard Deduction New Standard Deduction
    1 149 152
    2 149 152
    3 149 152
    4 149 163
    5 149 191
    6 149 219
  • Standard Utility Allowances (SUAs)
    • The Heating/Cooling SUA will increase from $586 to $608;
    • The Nonheating SUA will increase from $360 to $374;
    • The Phone SUA will increase from to $41 to $43; and
    • The Bay State CAP SUA will increase from $586 to $608.
  • The Disaster SNAP Income Eligibility Standards will increase.

See Attachment A for revised COLA standard amounts.

Unchanged COLA Standards

  • Maximum Benefit Levels - The maximum SNAP benefit levels for all household sizes remain unchanged through October 31, 2013.
  • Minimum Benefit Level - The minimum benefit level for eligible one and two-person households remains at $16 through October 31, 2013.
  • Homeless Shelter/Utility Deduction - The Homeless Shelter/Utility Deduction remains at $143.

Purpose of Memo
The purpose of the memo is to:

  • advise TAO staff about the annual COLA recalculation; and
  • provide staff initial information about the decrease in SNAP benefits that will occur in November 2013.

Eligibility Charts and Issuance Tables
SNAP eligibility charts, issuance tables, standard utility allowance amounts, maximum and minimum benefit amounts, shelter deduction and standard deduction amounts will be updated and posted on the www.mass.gov/dta website by October 1, 2013.

ARRA: Upcoming November Recalculation
ARRA, also known as the Federal Stimulus Plan, initiated an increase in SNAP benefits which was effective on April 1, 2009. ARRA expires on November 1, 2013. The expiration of ARRA will cause a benefit reduction for nearly all SNAP households (estimated at approximately 460,000 out of the 500,000 households in the current SNAP active caseload).

Maximum benefit levels will be decreased in the system, as will the minimum benefit level, and all SNAP households will be recalculated. Clients will receive their decreased benefit amount on their November cyclical date.

In October, TAO staff will receive an operations memo about the ARRA changes for SNAP. In preparation for the November 2013 decrease in SNAP benefits, TAOs will be provided with materials to effectively inform clients and answer related questions clients may ask. The following materials are being transmitted with this memo:
1) Attachment B - Poster: The posters will be available in English and Spanish. These must be posted in waiting rooms and SNAP rooms.
2) Attachment C - Flyer: The flyers will be available in English and Spanish. These must be distributed by TAO staff to clients in the waiting room.
3) Attachment D - Talking Points: They will be used by TAO staff and community agencies to provide consistent messages to clients regarding the Fall 2013 benefit changes.
Attachments B and C (poster and flyer) will be produced at Schraffts and shipped to TAOs during the week of September 23, 2013.

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