PA SNAP households denied emergency allotments will now get them

judge's gavel and lawsuitThroughout May and June, PA Dept. of Human Services (DHS) is paying retroactive emergency allotments to SNAP households who were given smaller emergency allotments or no allotments at all during the months of September through March.

This is thanks to the lawsuit settlement won from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) by Community Legal Services of Philadelphia (CLS), for which Just Harvest helped provide testimony.

The Trump administration had blocked households who qualified for the maximum SNAP benefit amount from getting extra SNAP during the pandemic. In March, CLS’s legal victory for roughly 700,000 such households in Pennsylvania means they will finally get a lump sum settlement for the months they were denied extra benefits. CLS 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 with the USDA for $712 million in retroactive food stamp benefits.

Who is eligible

People who received SNAP at any point between September 11, 2020 and March 31, 2021 will receive these payments for the months you received SNAP if:

  • you did not receive an emergency allotment at all during this time because you already qualified for the maximum benefit for your household size, OR
  • you received an emergency allotment that was less than half of the maximum amount for a household of your size.

How much people are eligible for

The lump-sum payment is equal to half of the maximum SNAP benefit amount based on household size, per month. For example:

Household Size Sep. Maximum Benefit Oct.-Dec. Maximum Benefit Jan.-Mar. Maximum Benefit Estimated Total Back Payment*
1 $194 $204 $234 $718
2 $355 $374 $430 $1,318
3 $509 $535 $616 $1,887
4 $646 $680 $782 $2,397
5 $768 $807 $929 $2,847
6 $921 $969 $1,114 $3,415
7 $1,018 $1,071 $1,232 $3,796
8 $1,164 $1,224 $1,408 $4,338
Each additional member $146 $153 $176 *
*We cannot guarantee the exact amount that households will get. This is only an estimate of what households who qualified for the maximum SNAP benefit would receive for Sept. 11 through March 31. Households that were only qualified for the maximum benefit for part of that time, and/or who received an allotment that was less than half of the maximum amount, will get less.
  • If you are in a family of 4 that has been eligible for the maximum since January, then you have been getting $782 as a 1st payment and no second payment every month. Your family will soon receive an additional $1173 – three combined payments of $391, which is half of your monthly allotment – as an additional lump sum payment for those three months.
  • If you are in a household of three, and your regular 1st payment in October was $500, then your emergency allotment – the 2nd payment – was $35. Your emergency allotment, under this settlement, should have been $267. You will be owed $232 just for October.

You will only get a payment for the months you were receiving SNAP. For example, if you got SNAP benefits in September and October, then you will get an extra SNAP for both months. If you did not get SNAP benefits in November, you will not get extra SNAP benefits for November.

When the settlement funds will go out

Extra SNAP Payment Dates chartDHS has already distributed the April portion of this settlement; you should have received it on your EBT card. During May and June they will be providing one lump sum payment for the remaining months that are covered under this settlement period.

  • If you currently receive the maximum amount of SNAP benefits, you will receive this back payment by May 12.
  • If you currently receive SNAP benefits, but not the maximum amount, you will receive this payment sometime between June 7th and June 13th.
  • If you no longer receive SNAP, but were receiving SNAP benefits at some point during these months, the entire back payment will be deposited onto your EBT card sometime between early May and June 30 as caseworkers manually issue deposits onto cards.

Worried about having to use all these benefits in a certain time frame? Don’t be. SNAP benefits do not expire. As long as you use your card once every three months, you will have access to these benefits, even if you stop receiving SNAP.

Extra SNAP for these households in the future

The Biden administration announced in April that for the duration of the pandemic it will provide $1 billion a month in extra SNAP benefits to the roughly 25 million U.S. households who are eligible for the maximum. Starting in May, these households will get an additional $95 in SNAP every month for as long as there is an emergency declaration in place.

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