Change in income floor allows more to enroll

BATON ROUGE — The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) new cost-of-living adjustments for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that go into effect on Oct. 1 will mean a reduction of benefits for most Louisiana families, while allowing others on the cusp of eligibility to begin receiving assistance.

For a family of four, for example, the decrease  is the equivalent cost of about four pounds of ground beef, or nine loaves of house-brand bread, or eight dozen eggs, or three gallons of milk.

Each year, USDA adjusts the SNAP monthly allotments based on certain food costs included in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Indexes (CPI). While the overall CPI went up from June 2016 to June 2017 - indicating that the cost of living generally increased - the cost of foods in USDA's Thrifty Food Plan, on which SNAP benefits are based, decreased slightly.

Benefits

Decreases in SNAP's maximum monthly food allotments for FFY 2017-2018 range from 1 to 1.4 percent, depending on the number of people in the household. For example, the maximum allotment for a family of one will decrease by $2, from $194 to $192 per month, while a family of four will see their benefits drop $9 per month, from $649 to $640.

Household Size

Oct. 1, 2016

Oct. 1, 2017

Change

1

$194

$192

-$2

2

$357

$352

-$5

3

$511

$504

-$7

4

$649

$640

-$9

5

$771

$760

-$11

6

$925

$913

-$12

7

$1,022

$1,009

-$13

8

$1,169

$1,153

-$16

Each additional person

+$146

+$144

-$2

The minimum monthly allotment also will decrease by $1, from $16 to $15.

These changes will primarily impact those with no income who receive the maximum benefit amount and households with elderly or disabled family members who receive the minimum benefit amount.

Some 888,762 Louisianans in 410,335 households received SNAP benefits in August. The average monthly benefit was $276.37. Nearly three-quarters of those households - an estimated 300,935 - are expected to be impacted by the reductions, with the average decrease being $4.37.

Income Limits and Deductions

Meanwhile, SNAP's income eligibility standards and allowable deductions - which are based on the federal poverty level and adjusted annually based on overall inflation - will increase.

The gross and net monthly income limits for households will increase by a range of 1.1 to 1.6 percent. For example, a single-person household will now have a gross monthly income limit of $1,307 (up $20) and a net monthly income limit of $1,005 (up $15), while a family of four will be limited to gross monthly income of $2,665 (up $32) and net monthly income of $2,050 (up $25).

The resources limit for eligible households including at least one person who is age 60 or older, or is disabled, will increase by $250, from $3,250 to $3,500. The limit for all other eligible households will remain the same at $2,250.

The monthly standard deduction also will increase by $2 or $3 per month, depending on household size, and the shelter cap value will increase by $18, to $535. As a result of these increases, some SNAP clients who are not currently receiving the monthly maximum or minimum allotment may see an increase in their monthly benefits beginning Oct. 1.

A small number of SNAP recipients may see no change at all in their monthly benefit amounts, due to their allotment reductions and deduction increases canceling each other out.

For more information on the adjustments, visit the USDA Food and Nutrition Service at www.fns.usda.gov/snap/cost-living-adjustment-cola-information.