As part of its response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the District is temporarily increasing SNAP (or Food Stamps) benefits for eligible households. According to the DC Department of Human Services (DHS), this policy change will help an estimated 34,000 households in the District by providing them with an average increase of $155 per month in SNAP for the months of March and April.
On Friday, DHS Director Laura Zeilinger announced that SNAP households that are not already receiving the maximum monthly benefit will receive temporary allotments for the months of March and April to bring their monthly benefit up to the maximum. The chart below shows the impact of this change. If a household of four is receiving the average benefit of $448 per month in SNAP, they will now receive an additional $198 per month in benefits in March and April, bringing them up to the maximum monthly benefit of $646 for a household of that size. DHS deposited March’s emergency SNAP allotment on EBT cards between April 3rd and April 7th and plan to deposit April’s emergency SNAP allotment later this month.
Source: Center On Budget and Policy Priorities, A Quick Guide to SNAP Eligibility and Benefits, last updated November 2019.
This relief is just one of the many initiatives DHS has undertaken to help shore up the District’s safety net. DHS has created an online benefits application (which allows eligible households to apply for SNAP, TANF cash assistance, and/or health insurance from home without needing to go to a service center). The agency has also suspended recertification requirements, thus automatically extending benefits to households whose benefits were set to expire at the end of March and April.
DHS is currently engaged in discussions with the federal government to offer additional emergency relief such as providing a temporary increase in SNAP benefits to households that normally qualify for free or reduced price school lunch, extending eligibility for college students, and allowing SNAP recipients to use their benefits for online grocery delivery.
Legal Aid commends DHS’s efforts, and we will continue to update our client community as these plans are finalized.