HARRISBURG, PA — The Department of Human Services (DHS) has begun to issue emergency allotments for the month of April for households that currently receive the maximum monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit.
These funds come following a settlement between Community Legal Services (CLS) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and will be the first part of a $712 million distribution of federally-funded food assistance for approximately 700,000 households that either received less than half their monthly SNAP payment in additional assistance or have not received extra SNAP assistance since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“This settlement will have a tremendously positive effect on thousands of Pennsylvania families, particularly families with children, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities, who SNAP primarily serves,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “The Wolf Administration applauds Community Legal Services and their clients for their courage and persistence in pursuing it, and we are grateful to the Biden Administration for recognizing the continued need in Pennsylvania and nationwide by allowing us to issue aid to these households moving forward as long as our state disaster declaration remains in place.”
Households receiving the monthly maximum benefit will receive an additional payment equal to 50 percent of their normal monthly benefit. Households that previously received smaller emergency allotments will receive an amount equal to 50 percent of the monthly maximum for their household size. SNAP maximum grant amounts can be found here. Details and timing for the disbursement of the remaining funds from the $712 million dollar settlement, which covers emergency allotments from September 2020-April 2021, will be finalized soon.
Moving forward, these households will begin to receive a regular monthly emergency allotment so long as Pennsylvania’s disaster declaration, which is required to authorize emergency allotments, remains in place. The Biden Administration recently issued guidance indicating that all states will now be able to receive an additional minimum supplement of $95.
In September 2020, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania issued a preliminary injunction in Gilliam v. USDA, ruling that the USDA, under the previous presidential administration, misinterpreted the law to mean that any household that already received the maximum monthly allotment for its size would not receive an additional emergency allotment. It also meant that those receiving SNAP whose grants were close to the monthly maximum received only small additional emergency allotments. Following the ruling, the USDA sought clarification regarding the ruling, delaying Pennsylvania’s request for additional emergency allotments.
The USDA previously interpreted the law to grant emergency allotments to households not making the monthly maximum benefit for their household size, which excluded 40 percent of SNAP households in Pennsylvania – many of whom are among the lowest-income residents. Under CLS and USDA’s settlement agreement, the USDA will not seek recoupment for emergency allotments issued to Pennsylvanians.
For more information about food assistance resources for people in Pennsylvania impacted by COVID-19 and the accompanying economic insecurity, visit https://www.agriculture.pa.gov/Food_Security/Pages/default.aspx.
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