February SNAP benefits to be issued early

As a result of the partial federal government shutdown, the U.S Department of Agriculture has asked states to provide early issuance of February benefits for those who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for food security.

The nearly 74,000 Nebraska households enrolled in SNAP will see their next monthly allocation by January 20th.

The early benefit disbursement means SNAP recipients whose benefits are up for recertification this month need to act immediately to collect those funds.

“We need to process January recertification paperwork by January 15,” said Matthew Wallen, Director of the Division of Children and Family Services, which administers the SNAP program. “We are shifting personnel, authorizing overtime and working this Saturday and Sunday to process both recertifications and new applications to make sure recipients get their February benefits.”

Department of Health and Human Services officials are advising that the extra effort to meet the early issuance recertification guidelines means some SNAP recipients will be getting phone calls from DHHS team members this weekend, as part of the recertification process.

“Team members will NOT ask you for your social security number,” said Wallen. “We are working hard to expedite the recertification process while still protecting recipients’ personal information.”

Because of the partial federal government shutdown, the ACCESSNebraska customer service center is receiving heavy call volume. The number of calls concerning program benefit balance and availability is affecting DHHS efforts to fast-track the recertification process.

Those who have concerns about the impact the government shutdown is having on their benefits are being asked to go to the ACCESSNebraska web site and utilize the “my account” option and to download the EBT-EDGE mobile app to monitor their benefits. New applications and recertification can also be processed on-line at ACCESSNebraska.

“This is NOT additional funds to SNAP recipients, but an early issuance of February benefits,” reiterated Wallen. “Those who typically see additional funds added to their EBT card the first week of each month will see their February money by January 20, rather than at the beginning of next month.”

DHHS is awaiting further direction regarding benefit issuance for January recertification that is completed or processed after January 15. The early issuance will proceed, even if the federal government shutdown ends prior to January 20.