SNAP: What is recertification and when to file so you don’t lose your benefits in 2023
To prevent a disruption in benefits and avoid reapplying, individuals receiving SNAP must periodically undergo recertification. Here is are the steps.
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.
One of the important facts of the program that recipients need to keep in mind is that you must recertify in order to avoid losing your benefits. Here’s a look at what that entails.
What is SNAP recertification?
Simply put, recertification is a simplified process to renew SNAP benefits similar to how beneficiaries applied for the program in the first place. Recertification is required periodically to make sure that you are still eligible for SNAP benefits.
Any changes to your situation, be it family or financial, must be reported to the agency that is providing your SNAP benefits. 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.
In the case of periodic recertification, its mandatory even if your situation has not changed. Each state has its own requirements like whether or not it is necessary to have an interview to recertify. Depending on the state the interview may in some cases be conducted over the phone others in person.
When to recertify for SNAP so you don’t lose your benefits in 2023
Recertification must be done before your certification period expires. These periods vary from state to state and even in some cases for specific groups of beneficiaries.
For example, most households in California have a 12-month certification period. However, some with elderly or disabled members are certified for 24 months. And those that only have elderly and/or disabled members and no earned income have a 36-month certification period.
In Florida, most households have a 6-month certification period. New York ranges from six to twelve months and Texas no more than 12 months. You’re advised to speak to your case worker to confirm the length of your certification period.
Prior to your certification expiring, the agency that handles your benefits should send you a letter, or email depending on your state and if you are signed up to received notifications electronically.
Failure to recertify on time could result in your SNAP benefits stopping and you having to reapply using the full application form instead of the simpler renewal form. Some states provide a grace period, but your payments maybe interrupted until your recertification is processed.
Depending on your state you may be able to send your renewal paperwork electronically or you may have to mail it or present it in person. You should check with your case worker to find out the specific rules for your local agency.