State officials expect surge in applications for SNAP benefits if $600 unemployment bonuses end

State expects more people to apply for SNAP benefits when federal $600 unemployment payments expire

With the extra $600 in federal unemployment bonus payments set to expire this month, the Pa. Department of Human Services expects more people to apply for SNAP benefits.

The money, which has been distributed over and above state unemployment benefits to help those who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was part of the CARES Act passed by Congress in March and signed into law by President Donald Trump.

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A family of two receives about $243 under the food stamps program, and Secretary Teresa Miller said nearly nine percent of Americans experience food scarcity.

“Inadequate food and chronic nutrient deficiencies have profound effects on a person’s life and health, including increased risks for chronic diseases, higher chances of hospitalization, poor overall health and increased health care costs,” Miller said.

Miller said you do not need to know if you’re eligible to apply, and emergency distributions will happen as long as Pennsylvania is under an emergency declaration due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applications for SNAP and Medicaid can be submitted online at www.compass.state.pa.us. Applications are processed within six days on average for SNAP and 11 days on average for Medicaid. Once a benefit is approved, it can be immediately accessed, according to a release from DHS.

An extension of the $600 benefit, or something that would take its place, is being considered by the Senate as the virus has caused some states to pull back on plans to open up businesses.

To prevent a lapse in benefits while a potential fourth stimulus bill debate ensues, the White House and Senate Republican leaders suggested Wednesday that a short-term extension of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance be passed this week, according to Bloomberg News. It’s unclear if a short-term extension would be of the full $600 weekly benefit, or how long benefits would be paid out.

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