American families and individuals who rely on food stamps to make ends meet are eagerly awaiting the announcement of the annual increases that accompany inflation. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) raises the payments every year, to follow cost-of-living increments and to help the families not to lose their purchase power.
As you should know, the SNAP program, formerly known as the food stamps program, is a federal assistance program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) designed to provide eligible low-income individuals and families with funds to purchase food. This program aims to alleviate hunger and improve the overall nutritional well-being of its beneficiaries.
How Are SNAP Benefits Payments Adjusted to Deal With Inflation?
The calculation of SNAP benefits is a complex process, but we’ll try to explain it as easy as possible. It takes into account several factors, including household income, size, and expenses. To determine the amount of assistance a household is eligible to receive, the USDA employs a standardized formula that considers a bunch of factors.
Then, allowable deductions, such as housing, childcare, medical expenses, and utilities, are subtracted to determine the net income. The USDA sets maximum benefit allotments based on household size, acting as an upper limit. Finally, the Thrifty Food Plan, developed by the USDA, serves as the basis for estimating the cost of a nutritionally adequate diet at a minimal cost, influencing the final SNAP benefit amount a household qualifies for.
Now, let’s talk about how the SNAP benefits are incremented every year to follow cost-of-living growths. To ensure the relevance and effectiveness of the food stamps, annual adjustments are implemented. These changes help families to keep pace with the evolving economic landscape and the increasing cost of living.
Factors considered in these adjustments include inflation and the cost of living, as rising prices impact household expenses, including groceries. Additionally, updates to the Thrifty Food Plan, the basis for calculating SNAP benefits, are made periodically to align with dietary guidelines, food prices, and consumption patterns. Congressional legislation and administrative changes by the governing administration can also influence SNAP benefit adjustments, adapting the program to better serve its recipients in response to evolving societal needs and priorities.
Over the last 59 years, the Food Stamp Act has helped alleviate hunger for millions of families. I will continue to fight for and protect SNAP benefits in the upcoming #FarmBill and beyond. When our communities and children are fed, our economy and all of us thrive. https://t.co/SjEvzE8GLZ
— Congressman Maxwell Alejandro Frost (@RepMaxwellFrost) August 31, 2023
New SNAP boost Payments for 2024: The Full Chart
The payment table of food stamps, for year 2024, is going to have a substantial increase, according to the following table of values for the 48 contiguous states, DC, Guam, Virgin Islands:
- 1 person: $1,133
- 2 people: $1,526
- 3 people: $1,920
- 4 people: $2,313
- 5 people: $2,706
- 6 people: $3,100
- 7 people: $3,493
- 8 people: $3,886
- Each additional member: $394
The 2024 SNAP payments for Alaska will be as follows:
- 1 person: $1,416
- 2 people: $1,908
- 3 people: $2,400
- 4 people: $2,891
- 5 people: $3,383
- 6 people: $3,875
- 7 people: $4,366
- 8 people: $4,858
- Each additional member: $492
The 2024 food stamps allotments for Hawaii will be as follows:
- 1 person: $1,303
- 2 people: $1,755
- 3 people: $2,208
- 4 people: $2,660
- 5 people: $3,113
- 6 people: $3,565
- 7 people: $4,018
- 8 people: $4,470
- Each additional member: $453
What Is the Thrifty Food Plan and How Is It Used to Calculate SNAP Benefits?
The Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) is one of four food plans developed by the USDA that estimates the cost of a nutritious diet at different price points. The other three are the Low-Cost, Moderate-Cost, and Liberal Food Plans. The TFP is the lowest cost of the four and represents the cost of groceries needed to provide a healthy, budget-conscious diet for a family of four. It is designed to meet the nutritional needs of an average person consuming a diet at home.
The TFP plays a crucial role in calculating the benefit amounts for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). By law, the cost of the TFP in June each year is equal to the maximum SNAP benefit for a household of four people for the following October through September. That amount is then adjusted to determine the maximum benefit for households of other sizes.
The Thrifty Food Plan is updated periodically to reflect changes in dietary guidance, food prices, and consumption patterns. The 2018 Farm Bill directed the USDA to re-evaluate the TFP no later than 2022 and then every five years thereafter.
Could I Lose My SNAP Benefits if the Government Shuts Down?
The country is on a course towards a government shutdown unless Congress manages to approve funding extensions prior to Sunday, October 1. Should a shutdown occur, it has the potential to disrupt critical federal services, including the food stamps program.
SNAP recipients may experience delays in receiving their monthly food assistance benefits. This delay can cause financial hardship for low-income individuals and families who rely on these benefits to put food on the table. New applications for SNAP benefits may be delayed or put on hold due to reduced staffing and resources. This means that individuals who are in urgent need of assistance may face extended waiting times.
SNAP benefits are used to purchase food from authorized retailers. During a government shutdown, delays in processing payments to these retailers can occur, potentially affecting their willingness to accept SNAP payments, which, in turn, affects beneficiaries’ access to food.
Let’s cross all our fingers so that Congress reaches a bipartisan agreement and food stamp recipients do not run out of their expected resources, which also have to come with the announced increase.
Who Qualifies for the New Federal SNAP Work Requirements for ABAWDs?
Starting on Sunday, October 1, some recipients of the SNAP program will face new work requirements and time limits in order to continue receiving their benefits. These changes primarily impact a specific group of SNAP recipients known as “Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents,” or ABAWDs.
As of October 1, 2023, individuals falling into the ABAWD category, aged 18 to 52, will be subject to stricter regulations. They will now be limited to receiving SNAP benefits for a maximum of three months within a 36-month period, unless they meet the newly imposed federal work requirement or qualify for an exemption.
These changes mark a significant shift in SNAP policy, aimed at encouraging ABAWDs to actively seek employment or engage in approved work-related activities to maintain their eligibility for food assistance. The requirement reflects a broader effort to promote self-sufficiency among SNAP beneficiaries and aligns with the program’s core mission of providing temporary assistance to those in need.
ABAWDs must be engaged in some of the next work requirements:
- Work in a job that is either for pay or volunteer. This must be a minimum of 80 hours per month.
- Enroll in a SNAP Employment and Training program for at least 80 hours per month.
- Work and or take part in any combination of the above for a total of at least 80 hours per month.