Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller announced that DHS is altering payment schedules for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for the month of December to allow all benefits to be issued without risk of delay in case of a federal government shutdown. SNAP is a federally funded program and the federal government is currently funded through December 11, 2020.
“SNAP is a critical resource for the nearly 1.9 million Pennsylvanians who use it to purchase fresh food and groceries for themselves and their families. Particularly as Pennsylvania and our nation are in the midst of a growing public health crisis, we cannot risk a lapse in benefits that help meet this most basic, essential need,” said Secretary Miller. “Some SNAP recipients may receive their monthly benefit and emergency allotments earlier than usual, but we need Pennsylvanians to know that this is not in error or an additional payment. This is their normal December payment, and there will be no additional payment.”
SNAP benefits are typically issued during the first 10 business days of the month and emergency allotments, which are authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and currently go to about 60 percent of SNAP households, in the second 10 business days after this issuance. Because SNAP is entirely federally funded, a delay in authorizing new funding could disrupt benefit issuance. To avoid any potential disruption, recipients may receive their benefits earlier than anticipated and in one payment as opposed to two issuances. All December SNAP benefits will be available on EBT cards by December 11, 2020.
SNAP helps nearly 1.9 million Pennsylvanians purchase fresh food and groceries, helping families with limited or strained resources be able to keep food on the table while meeting other needs. Inadequate food and chronic nutrient deficiencies have profound effects on a person’s life and health, including increased risks for chronic diseases, higher chances of hospitalization, poorer overall health, and increased health care costs. As the nation faces the COVID-19 pandemic, access to essential needs like food is more important than ever to help keep vulnerable populations healthy and mitigate co-occurring health risks.
SNAP recipients can also use online purchasing to use SNAP funds for grocery delivery or for prepayment of curbside pick-up at certain retailers. Earlier this year, Pennsylvania joined a federal pilot program allowing SNAP recipients to purchase food online through certain approved retailers: Walmart, Amazon, the Fresh Grocer, Shoprite, and, most recently, Aldi. Funds can only be used for food products and not processing fees, delivery charges, or tips.
Applications for SNAP and other public assistance programs can be submitted online at www.compass.state.pa.us. Those who prefer to submit paper documentation can print from the website or request an application by phone at 1-800-692-7462 and mail it to their local County Assistance Office (CAO) or place it in a CAO’s secure drop box, if available. You do not need to know your own eligibility in order to apply. While CAOs remain closed, work processing applications, determining eligibility, and issuing benefits continues. Clients should use COMPASS or the MyCOMPASS PA mobile app to submit necessary updates to their case files while CAOs are closed.
For more information about food assistance resources for people around Pennsylvania impacted by COVID-19 and the accompanying economic insecurity, visit the Department of Agriculture’s food security guide.
For more information on public assistance programs, visit www.dhs.pa.gov.