What Happens to Food Stamps During the Government Shutdown?

"Government Shutdown of December 2018"

As government shutdowns have become more frequent in recent years, food stamp recipients have been in constant state of worry as each threat of shutdown looms. In this post, we will explain what happens to food stamps during government shutdowns and what can be expected during the next shutdown.

"Food Stamps and the Government Shutdown"

The food stamps Program in Numbers

There is a lot of misconceptions out there about the food stamps program. What most people don’t realize is how vital this program is to the American safety net for low-income families and individuals.

There are currently about 38.5 million people receiving snap benefits. There is the impression that food stamps beneficiaries are concentrated in certain parts of the country.

However, as the map below, shows, even though most of the states with a large percentage of people on food stamps are mostly in the south, there are also a high concentration of food stamps beneficiaries in other parts of the country. Here is a map showing the percentage of people on food stamps by state:

"States with the most people on food stamps"

As you can see, the program is a vital part of the livelihood of many Americans. For example in Nevada, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Florida and Georgia, 14% of the population is on food stamps.

In West Virginia and Louisiana, that number is 17% and 18% respectively. New Mexico has the highest number of people on food stamps, with 22% of the population receiving benefits.

With the government shutdown and potential for interruption in benefits, millions of people face the real threat of hunger.

Why Does the government shutdown?

There is a government shutdown when the President and Congress cannot agree on appropriation bills or continuing resolutions to fund federal government agencies and departments.

By law, Congress has to pass appropriation bills that the President has to sign into law to fund the government each federal fiscal year. The federal fiscal year is from October 1st to September 30th.

If the President and Congress cannot agree on the appropriation bills for that fiscal year, they can agree to pass continuing resolutions, which are bills that are passed to fund government agencies for a period of time, keeping spending at the same level as the previous fiscal year.

A government shutdown then happens when both sides are not able to agree on appropriation bills and cannot also agree on continuing resolutions.

Not all shutdowns affect the entire government. Sometimes, the funding dispute revolves around a few departments, so those departments are shutdown when funding runs out. That is called a partial shutdown

An example is the December 2018 shutdown, a partial shutdown involving select departments, including the Department of Homeland Security, whose funding dispute about the President’s request for funds for a border wall caused the government to shut down, affecting the other departments whose funding were also set to run out.

What Happens To Federal Workers During a Shutdown?

Each federal agency is required to prepare a contingency plan in case of a shutdown. In the plan, the agency must determine which workers are essential and which ones are not.

Essential workers are those whose jobs involve the safety of human life, the protection of property, or certain other types of work designated by their agencies as necessary to continue.

Workers deemed essential are required to work during a government shutdown, but are unpaid. They may be paid back wages after the Shutdown ends, but that is not guaranteed.

Federal employees deemed non-essential are sent home (on an unpaid furlough) during the shutdown. They are not to work while on furlough, even on a volunteer basis. They may be paid back wages after the shutdown. However, that is not guaranteed and it’s entirely up to Congress.

Food Stamps and the Government Shutdown

The food stamps program requires annual funding from Congress. Whether a government shutdown will affect food stamps benefits depends on when the last round of funding approved by Congress for the food stamps program is set to expire.

If the USDA funding is part of the unresolved funding issue that leads to the shutdown, then food stamps benefits are likely to be impacted by the shutdown, depending on how long the shutdown lasts.

Government Shutdown of December 2018

Here is how the December 2018 government shutdown happened:

The partial government shutdown began December 22 after President Trump and congressional Democrats could not agree on funding for the president’s long-sought southern border wall.

Nine out of 15 federal departments are closed, as well as dozens of agencies because their funding had run out. However, several funding bills were passed and signed, so about 75 percent of government services are unaffected by the shutdown.

A total of 800,000 federal government workers are affected by the partial shutdown.

Of those, more than 420,000 are working without pay, including agents from the FBI, Coast Guard, IRS and Department of Homeland Security.

Update on Food Stamps Benefits

According to the USDA, food stamp benefits for January 2019 will all be paid on time. There was uncertainty about benefit payments for February 2019 should the shutdown drag on.

The USDA had initially said that it could only pay 64% of February’s food stamps obligations with the current funding available.

However, the department then later said it had found a way to be able to pay all of February’s benefits but because of a technicality, February’s benefits will all be paid early, on or before January 20th.

If the shutdown drags on into March, there is no information on whether benefits will be paid since the USDA has no more emergency funding to draw from.

Disaster Food Stamps Florida

Florida Disaster Food Stamps

If you live in Florida and have been impacted by a hurricane, flood, power outage, tornado, or any other natural disaster you may qualify for emergency food stamps. In this article, we will show you how to apply for Disaster Food Stamps Florida and the step-by-step process you have to follow in order to get approved.

Disaster Food Stamps Florida

The Florida Disaster Food Stamps program, also known as Food for Florida and D-SNAP is a program available to any Florida resident that has been impacted by a natural disaster. Food for Florida offers emergency food benefits to victims of hurricanes or other types of disasters and is only active when there is a presidentially-declared disaster area in Florida. The declaration must be for individual assistance and be approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) that is responsible for the food stamps program.Florida Disaster Food Stamps

Disaster Food Stamps Florida, also known as Disaster Assistance Food Stamps Florida provides emergency food benefits to those who are not currently receiving regular Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. If you are currently receiving SNAP, then you will not be eligible to apply for Disaster Food Stamps Florida. If you are not currently receiving SNAP benefits and would like to apply for Florida Disaster Food Stamps, there are several requirements you must first meet. To learn about eligibility for the Florida Disaster Food Stamps program and how to apply, keep reading our post below.

How Disaster Food Stamps Florida Works

If you have survived a natural disaster and need food assistance, you may be eligible for Disaster Food Stamps Florida or Food for Florida. Disaster Food Stamps is a federally-funded program that helps those in emergency situations purchase food. The program is meant to extend benefits to households that typically would not be eligible for food assistance, but have a sudden need because of a disaster.

Unlike regular food stamps (SNAP) where there is typically a 30-day waiting period, if you qualify for Disaster Assistance Food Stamps Florida, you will receive your benefits no later than seven days after you submit your application. If you are currently receiving food stamps, and have survived a natural disaster, you may request to have your current food stamps allocation increased temporarily to help you get through the post-disaster period. Here is what you need to know to apply for disaster food assistance in your area:

  • Eligible households receive 1 month of benefits, equivalent to the maximum amount of benefits normally issued to a SNAP household of their size.
  • Benefits are issued via an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card, which can be used to purchase food at most grocery stores.
  • Benefits are issued to eligible applicants within 72 hours

If you would like to apply for Florida Disaster Food Stamps, keep reading this post to find out how to apply for emergency food stamps.

Disaster Assistance Food Stamps Florida Eligibility

In order to be eligible to receive Disaster Assistance Food Stamps, you must first meet several requirements. The most important requirement you must be living in a declared disaster area at the time of the disaster. You will be asked to provide proof of your residence at the time you apply for Disaster Food Stamps. The USDA has general guidelines that they use when declaring a disaster area and determining if a disaster program is required. These general guidelines include widespread power outages that affect more than half of the individuals living in the disaster area.

Households living in the disaster area must meet certain criteria in order to receive D-SNAP benefits through the Food for Florida program. The following is the criteria you must meet in order to receive Florida Disaster Food Stamps:

D-SNAP Requirements

  1. There must be damage to or destruction of the household’s home or self-employment business.
  2. There must be disaster-related expenses that are not expected to be reimbursed during the disaster period such as food loss, home or business repairs, temporary shelter expenses, evacuation expenses, home or business protection, and disaster-related personal injury.
  3. There must be inaccessible or lost income including reduction or termination of income, or a delay in receipt of income during the disaster period.

If you are not currently receiving SNAP benefits in Florida and meet the D-SNAP requirements listed above, then you may be eligible to receive Florida Disaster Food Stamps. To learn how to apply for Disaster Food Stamps Florida, follow the instructions below.

How to Apply for Florida Disaster Food Stamps

If you’ve experienced a natural disaster and meet all the D-SNAP requirements listed above, the next thing you will want to do is apply for Disaster Assistance Food Stamps Florida through the Food for Florida program. Follow the steps listed below in order to start receiving your emergency food stamp benefits. Here’s how to apply:

Step 1

In the aftermath of a natural disaster, Florida can apply to the USDA to offer disaster food stamps once the area has received a Presidential disaster declaration of individual assistance (IA) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This authority comes from the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act signed into law in 1988 which allows for emergency food assistance in disaster areas.

Step 2

Once Florida receives approval to operate the Food for Florida (D-SNAP) program in the affected disaster area, information is then sent out to media outlets, listing program eligibility guidelines and application process, including how to apply online or in person. There is usually a list of physical locations where you can apply for Food for Florida in person or get help applying in person. It is important to note that you CANNOT apply for disaster food stamps until Florida has been approved for the program and there has been an announcement about accepting applications.

Step 3

Once Florida has announced that they have started accepting applications for disaster food stamps in the affected areas, then you are now able to apply for benefits. Click here to check the FEMA website to see if a disaster declaration has been made for your area. You can also see the disaster declaration map on this website. The USDA has a map here where you can see parts of the country where they have provided responses to recent disasters, as well as a full list here.

Step 4

Once you have verified that the area where you live has been declared a disaster area, go to the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) website and go to the page for the Food for Florida program. You can access the Food for Florida program webpage here.

Step 5

Once on the Food for Florida homepage, go the Food for Florida application page and complete the online Food for Florida pre-registration by clicking on the “Apply Online Now” link.

Step 6

After you have completed registration, visit a Food for Florida site in your area. You will be able to check for dates, times, and locations by visiting the Food for Florida site locations page here. Please note that only the head of the household should come to the Food for Florida site location for their interview. This is an effort to reduce the length of lines and wait time.

Step 7

After your Food for Florida application is completed and processed at the site location, your Florida Disaster Food Stamp benefits will be available to use within 72 hours.

In order to complete the application for Florida Disaster Food Stamps, you will need to provide some information. To find out what you will need to apply, read the list below.

What You Need to Apply for Florida Disaster Food Stamps

To complete the Florida Disaster Food Stamps application process you will need to have access to the following items listed below. You will be asked to provide:

  • Names, Social Security Numbers, and Dates of Birth for each household member
  • Address and County where you currently live
  • Monthly income for each household member
  • All liquid resources for each household member (cash on hand, checking, savings)

If you are currently receiving Florida SNAP benefits and have been affected by a natural disaster, you will not be eligible to apply for the Food for Florida program but you can apply for replacement SNAP benefits. To learn how to apply for replacement SNAP benefits, follow the instructions below.

Florida Food Stamp Replacement Benefits

Florida SNAP recipients that have been affected by a natural disaster are not eligible to apply for D-SNAP benefits through the Food for Florida program but can apply for replacement SNAP benefits. Replacement benefits will be for the value of the lost food that was purchased with your benefits. The replacement benefits will not be higher than the amount of food assistance that you are currently receiving. To qualify for replacement benefits if you must meet the following conditions:

  • You currently get benefits that are less than the monthly maximum.
  • You have losses from the disaster.

If you meet the conditions listed above and believe that you qualify for Florida Food Stamp Replacement Benefits, your household must report any food loss within 10 days after the loss. You will also be required to give the Department a signed statement showing the value of the lost food and proof that there was a disaster. If you are past the 10-day threshold, the Department must ask for special Federal approval to issue households replacement benefits.

If there is a widespread natural disaster, SNAP benefits may be administered to recipients’ EBT cards early. The Department may also increase the amount of food assistance benefits you receive to the maximum benefit amount for your household size. Both of these changes are at the discretion of the Department and not always guaranteed to happen during a natural disaster.

If you have additional questions about the Florida Food Stamp Replacement benefits, contact the Florida SNAP hotline at 1-866-762-2237.

We hope this post was helpful to you! If you have additional questions about FloridaDisaster Food Stamps (D-SNAP), let us know in the comments section below. We love to hear from you!

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