GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
Do SNAP benefits expire? How can I cancel my SNAP benefits online?
Unused SNAP benefits roll over from one month to the next but not forever. Here’s what you’ll want to know in order not to lose any benefits.
The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, is one of several programs administered by the US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service agency. SNAP benefits are managed by each state’s public assistance agency and although similar, each state has its own rules.
Likewise, the name of the program and the state agency that recipients need to contact can vary depending on where you live. This can make it confusing for the over 41 million people across the United States who receive nutritional assistance through SNAP as of 2021. Here’s a look at some of the basics when it comes to your benefits.
SNAP benefits eventually expire
You are not required to use all of your SNAP benefits in the month that you receive them. For those that receive the minimum, you may even want to build up funds for a larger shopping trip. SNAP benefits are placed onto an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) account, which you can check online, and funds left over from one month will roll over to the next.
However, depending on your state you will have to use the benefits from a particular month within at least 9 months of the date received, some states allow you to carry over benefits for up to a year. Any benefits from a month that are not used prior to the limit imposed by the state will be removed permanently and can’t be recovered.
The process of removing benefits from your EBT account will take place on a month-to-month basis. The state public assistance agency that runs the SNAP program is supposed to contact you before removing any benefits or making changes to your account. If you stop using your benefits for an extended amount of time, the agency responsible for managing the program will most likely try to contact you.
You must report changes that could affect eligibility
Equally, you are required to report any changes that may change your eligibility status or the amount of SNAP benefits that you can receive. You will need to check with your state on the specific rules for where you live.
The amount of time you have to inform the state agency of any change varies, but generally you are given a maximum of 10 days from the change or within 10 days after the end of the month in which the changes happened. Failure to report the change could result in loss of assistance, being banned from using the program even large fines or prison.
Canceling your benefits online
You can cancel your benefits at any time, for any reason. You may be asked why, but it usually just for the agency’s general data purposes. Again, because each state has its own process for managing SNAP benefits you will need to check with your state’s EBT portal that runs the program.
Not every state allows you to cancel your benefits online. Some require you to call while others require you to send a form by mail. You can get specifics by checking your state’s online benefits portal or calling the contact number provided on the SNAP State Directory of Resources webpage.
You can also call the SNAP toll free line at 1-800-221-5689 or email the USDA with inquiries about benefits.
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