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Food stamps: Does the COLA adjustment affect SNAP benefits?

Every year the Social Security Administration (SSA) introduces a cost-of-living adjustment for benefits recipients, but does this also apply to food stamps?

¿Cuánto se reducirá el beneficio de CalFresh en California según el grupo de familia desde abril?

The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) is the most widely-used anti-hunger initiative in the United States, which more than 41 million low-income households benefitting from the program each month.

SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps, are distributed in monthly payments to recipients. The amount you receive is based on your personal and employment situation, but your entitlement is also subject to an annual readjustment to help keep the payments in-line with inflation.

The increase is known as the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), and is added at the start of each federal fiscal year, 1 October.

Forbes reports that the new maximum benefits for a single person will rise from $250 per month to $281. Two-person households will now be eligible to receive up to $516, while three-person households can get up to $740

The US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutritional Service has published this chart of the maximum SNAP benefits allotment.

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Do I need to do anything to receive the COLA boost for SNAP payments?

If you are already registered as a SNAP recipient you do not need to do anything to trigger the boosted payments, from 1 October 2023 onwards you will simply begin to receive the increased amount.

You will continue to receive the funds on the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, with the same conditions to operate as before. Although it makes use of federal funding, the SNAP program is administrated at a state level, meaning that the eligibility requirements and terms of use may vary slightly between authorities.

However as a general rule, recipients of SNAP benefits can use their EBT cards to purchase the following items:

- Fruits and vegetables

- Meat, poultry and fish

- Dairy products

- Breads and cereals

- Snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages

- Seeds and plants, which produce food for the household to eat

Some states have expanded the options by signing up to the Restaurant Meals Program, which allows beneficiaries to use SNAP benefits to by hot meals at certain participating restaurants.

If you have not yet registered for SNAP benefits but believe that you could be eligible, you will need to apply with your local authority. First head over to the Benefits.gov website to check if you are entitled to the program.

If you are eligible for the support, use SNAP’s Application and Local Office Locators page to find your local office and begin the application process.