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March 30, 2009

SNAP Benefits to Increase April 1

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will increase for Montanans effective April 1, 2009 due to the recently passed federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

For many people, this increase will be extremely timely. “We know Montanans all across our state are struggling to make ends meet in these difficult economic times,” Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) Director Anna Whiting Sorrell said.

Currently, 88,548 Montanans are receiving SNAP benefits, the highest in at least the last 25 years. “The need for this program continues to grow,” Whiting Sorrell said. “In addition, this might be an opportune time for those who haven’t looked into the program before to consider it now.”

The program, administered in Montana by DPHHS, was previously known as the Food Stamp Program until the name was changed in October 1, 2008, partly to more accurately reflect the program’s mission to provide food assistance and nutrition education to assist participants as they move to a healthier lifestyle.

According to Linda Snedigar, Human and Community Services Division manager for DPHHS, people already receiving SNAP benefits will soon notice the extra benefits on their Electronic Benefit Transfer card. “This will happen automatically,” Snedigar said.

The SNAP benefit increases vary depending on the number of people in the household. For example, a family of three who currently receive $250 per month in SNAP benefits will see their benefit increase by $63 to $313 per month. (A complete table below shows a breakdown of various household size increases.)

Income, resources, household size and allowable expenses determine the amount of benefits a household can receive.

To confirm eligibility, people are encouraged to contact their local Office of Public Assistance.

In addition, there’s also good news for people eligible for benefits in the classification called ‘able-bodied adults without children.’ Normally, those recipients are only eligible for benefits for three months during a 36-month period. Until further notice, the time limits have been suspended. “Even people who have exhausted this benefit are now eligible again and are encouraged to apply,” Snedigar said.

To be eligible for SNAP benefits as an able-bodied adult, recipients are age 16 through 59 and must register for work. In addition, the individual may be required to participate in a SNAP Employment and Training Program unless a specified exemption is met.

As part of the ARRA, Montana is expected to receive an overall total of $57 million in SNAP benefits over the next four years. The Montana Legislature is currently working how best to allocate other pieces of the stimulus money. However, the SNAP allocation goes directly into the program and is effective in April due to federal requirements.

In February 2009, a total of 88,548 Montanans benefited from SNAP and $9.9 million was paid out. By comparison, in February 2008 there were 80,525 people who utilized the program and $7.9 million was paid out that month. 

In state fiscal year 2007, DPHHS issued nearly $100 million dollars in benefits.

SNAP is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s largest domestic nutrition assistance program serving more than 28 million individuals across the nation each month.

The table below indicates the benefit increases for each household.

People in Household

Increase

Example

1

+ $24

For example:  If there are 3 people in your household and right now you get $250 each month, starting in April you will get $313 each month.  ($250 + $63 = $313).

2

+ $44

3

+ $63

4

+ $80

5

+ $95

6

+ $114

7

+ $126

8

+ $144

Each extra person

+ $18

For more information call Snedigar at 406-444-6676 or visit the DPHHS Web site at www.dphhs.mt.gov.

Or, to track how other ARRA funds are being allocated in Montana go to www.recovery.mt.gov.