If you receive SNAP benefits, you may get an extra payment – a SNAP Emergency Allotment (EA) – on your EBT card later this month to help you buy food during the COVID-19 crisis.
|The USDA has approved additional SNAP benefits each month for the duration of the crisis. (This will depend on how long both the federal and state government have issued an emergency or disaster declaration.) The rules have not yet changed as to who is eligible for them.
October 26 update: The Trump administration is appealing the Community Legal Services of Philadelphia’s early October lawsuit win against the USDA (which we supported). The lawsuit challenged the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA)’s denying extra SNAP benefits to the poorest households – those already receiving the maximum benefit amount for their household size. The win would have allowed all SNAP households to receive additional benefits for as long as there is an emergency declaration in place.
January 4, 2021 update: Congress’s December COVID Relief package approved a 15% increase to SNAP benefits for all recipients for the next 6 months (until June 30, 2021). SNAP recipients who weren’t receiving the maximum benefit for their household size will continue to receive the maximum benefit for as long as the federal and state emergency declarations are in place. This will continue to be determined on a month-to-month basis.
February 5, 2021 update: Pres. Biden has directed the USDA to work with the Dept. of Justice on allowing states to provide extra SNAP benefits through Emergency Allotments to the lowest-income households. The Trump administration had blocked these households, who were already receiving the maximum benefit, from getting any extra aid.
April 7, 2021 update: Second payments of the Emergency Allotments have been approved for April. Check the chart at the bottom of the page to find your distribution date.
VICTORY! Community Legal Services of Philadelphia (CLS) has finally won additional SNAP benefits for the roughly 700,000 Pennsylvanian SNAP households who the Trump administration had blocked from getting extra SNAP during the pandemic. These households, who were already eligible for the maximum benefit amount, will get additional SNAP every month starting in May. CLS’s first won their lawsuit on behalf of these households in October but the Trump administration appealed it. On March 31, 2021, CLS settled the lawsuit for $712 million in retroactive food stamp benefits.
PA SNAP households already eligible for the maximum benefit amount will also receive a lump-sum payment for the extra benefits they should have received from September 11, 2020, through April 30, 2021. Households that received less than $95 in extra SNAP each month because their partial benefit was close to the maximum benefit will also get a lump-sum payment of extra SNAP.
All SNAP households will get extra benefits (EA payments)
|For Jan. 1 – Jun. 30, 2021 (includes 15% increase)|
|Household Size||Maximum Benefit|
|Each additional member||$176|
The extra payment will bring households who are only eligible for a partial benefit up to the maximum benefit amount for their household size (see chart at right). Households who are already eligible for the maximum benefit amount and those whose EA payments are less than $95 per month will start receiving extra SNAP in May. EA payments will not change for households who had been receiving extra SNAP of $95 or more per month.
If you live in Allegheny County and have any questions about your SNAP benefits, want to check your eligibility, or need help applying, call and leave your name and contact info and the best time to reach you, Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, at (412) 431-8960 (option 3) or by filling out the form on this page.
How much extra SNAP benefits will I get?
- If you are a 3 person household, the maximum benefit is $509 per month. If your family is only eligible for $200 per month, you will get $309 to bring you up to the maximum benefit.
- All households eligible for the maximum SNAP benefit will get another $95 a month (regardless of household size).
- Households that are close to the maximum (less than $95 away) will be guaranteed emergency allotments of $95 per household.
When will I get the extra SNAP benefits?
The extra SNAP will be loaded to your EBT card during the 3rd and 4th weeks of every month based on your payment date. For residents in Allegheny County, the payment date is based on the last number in your case record number.
- Find the final digit (0-9) of your record number on a DHS notice, or using your MyCOMPASS Account online. Find your number on the top row of the chart below.
- For example, if your record number ends in 5, you’ll get your extra November SNAP benefits on November 20.
If you recently were approved for SNAP benefits, the extra SNAP benefits may not appear on your card in the month that you were approved. Because the state schedules these payments early in the month, people who are approved later in the month do not typically receive the extra allotment that same month. If this happens, you should receive a makeup payment two months afterward when they identify households who were missed.
- For example, if you were approved for benefits on October 14th, you might not start receiving the extra payments until the second half of December. For November and subsequent months, you would get your second payment in the second half of the months. You will receive both your regular and extra benefits in the same month for as long as there is an emergency declaration in place and you remain eligible for SNAP.
SNAP households that were already receiving the maximum benefit allowed will start getting extra SNAP in May.
|Extra SNAP Benefits Issuance Day|
|Last digit of your record #||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||0|
|March date of 2nd payment||17||18||19||22||23||24||25||26||27||30|
|April date of 2nd payment||16||19||20||21||22||23||26||27||28||29|
Will I need to turn in paperwork or apply to get the extra SNAP benefits?
No. You don’t need to fill out extra paperwork. PA Dept. of Human Services will automatically add the extra SNAP benefits to your EBT card each month that you are eligible for SNAP, and you’ll be able to use them just like regular SNAP.
How long are my benefits good for?
These benefits won’t expire. As long as an EBT card is used at least once every five months, the benefits can stay on the card forever, even if you become ineligible for SNAP. If PA Dept. of Human Services moves unused benefits out of your account due to extended card inactivity, you can get the benefits back if you explain why you didn’t use them.
The SNAP Emergency Allotment is a result of the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (H.R. 6201), which was signed into law on March 18, 2020. Thanks to our ally, the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, for laying out much of the information in this post.