Why is This Affecting My Benefits?
Programs like SNAP, Social Security, and TANF (to name a few) are federally funded. During times of government shutdown, government employees are unable to work which means there is little-to-no assistance in local offices. Even if the funds are available, the services will slow down, causing cases to fall behind.
A shutdown also means that the federal funding to these programs is cut off. To avoid finding out what will happen when the funds run out, local government offices are attempting to supplement the funds once they’ve been depleted.
With funding in decline, the USDA cannot take on more cases until an agreement is reached. Therefore, a deadline for SNAP/EBT and Families First applications was issued for January and has been reached. Those approved before the deadline can still receive benefits that backtrack to the date of application. However, because the local human services departments are closed or short-staffed, benefits for the month of February will be granted early (by January 20, 2019). February’s benefits will be given early to ensure that recipients still get the help they need.
Unfortunately, until the shutdown is lifted, benefits for March or any month thereafter are not guaranteed. This means recipients will have to stretch those benefits and pinch pennies to afford necessities until further notice.
Do I Need to Spend Benefit Money Now?
The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is expecting a high amount of SNAP/EBT transactions throughout the remainder of the month. At the moment stores are still accepting these funds, but the concern is of how long this will last and what happens when the funds run out but there is still money on the card. For now, there is no definite answer since funds are there and state governments are making efforts to maintain the balance.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development relies on reserved funding for times like this. It should have enough to stay afloat for a month-long shutdown. There are areas in which offices are partially closed. While some landlords await payment, tenants await assistance, and other applicants are left in limbo, these are the offices that remain open during a government shutdown:
- Public Housing Authorities (PIH/PHA) and their websites
- The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO)
- The Federal Housing Administration within the Office of Housing (FHA)
- Office of the Inspector General (OIG)
For details on each office’s role in HUD and how they operate during a shutdown, click here.
Which Benefits are Not Affected?
The following will not be affected by the shutdown:
- Social Security
How Can I Stay Informed if Offices are Closed?
The USDA typically oversees FNS activity and gave useful information for as long as possible. Unfortunately, a lack of funding has caused the website to pause its regular flow of updated information. The USDA’s site contains general information about the efforts to aid in SNAP/EBT funding.
Other .com sites have taken over the regular updates to provide program information as the shutdown continues. Click here to see recent news about SNAP/EBT and how it may affect existing cases.
For more local information about an individual state’s status, visit the state or county’s Department of Human/Social/Health Services website.