January 13, 2019

Dr. Courtney N. Phillips, Executive Commissioner

Contact: Carrie Williams, 512-424-6951

AUSTIN – Texas announced today it is providing February food benefits early to thousands of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients. The early benefits will give recipients an extended period of time to manage their resources, given the ongoing federal government shutdown and uncertainty about future federal program funding.

Texas and other states received guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture instructing them to issue benefits early because of the shutdown. Benefits are being issued early to carry clients throughout the month of February.

Current SNAP recipients will see their February benefits automatically loaded onto their Lone Star Cards by Jan. 20. Normally benefits are staggered among recipients throughout the first half of the month. With this change, Texas will issue benefits early to approximately 3.5 million people across the state.

Recipients are encouraged to space their food purchases out throughout the month of February, rather than making mass purchases.

Guidance for individuals:

  • Current clients who have already been determined eligible for February do not need to take any action to receive their benefits.
  • Current clients who are in the process of renewing their benefits are encouraged to submit their verification documents as soon as possible.
  • People who have applied for benefits are encouraged to submit their verification documents as soon as possible.

The federal government has alerted states that they can issue benefits until federal funds are no longer available; it is unclear from the federal government when that will occur.

Texas will continue to accept and process applications. However, any benefits approved after federal funding runs out will be in a suspended status until states receive more information from the federal government about the shutdown’s impact on program funding.

SNAP is the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that provides food assistance to millions of eligible low-income individuals and families. In Texas, the federal SNAP program is administered by Texas HHSC.

Recipients are encouraged to use YourTexasBenefits.com or the Your Texas Benefits mobile app to manage and view benefit information and to update HHSC of any address changes. Recipients also are encouraged to sign up for electronic notices to stay informed about their cases.

For general updates about this federally funded program, people can go to hhs.texas.gov. To check benefit amounts, recipients can visit YourTexasBenefits.com or call the Lone Star Help Desk (800-777-7EBT). For questions about benefits, dial 2-1-1.

Texas will continue to monitor federal action and its impact on SNAP and other assistance programs administered through states, including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (commonly known as WIC), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (commonly known as TANF).

WIC and TANF benefits for clients in Texas are unaffected by the federal shutdown until further notice.

Texas administers these benefit programs based on federal guidelines and income parameters. Texas has controls in place to ensure benefits are provided to people who meet the requirements outlined by the federal program. People who purposely provide wrong information to receive benefits may be denied benefits, and legal action may be taken against them.

Funding Background
SNAP benefits are 100 percent federally funded, with monthly benefits worth $410 million for Texas. SNAP administration costs are shared between the federal and state government, with monthly administration costs of approximately $30 million.

Enrollment Data
SNAP Enrollment Data: https://hhs.texas.gov/about-hhs/records-statistics/data-statistics/supplemental-nutritional-assistance-program-snap-statistics.

Eligibility Background
Eligibility for SNAP is based on household size, the countable amount of gross and net income for all mandatory household members, and allowed deductions. Most households must have an annual income below 165 percent of the federal poverty level. For more information on SNAP eligibility, visit YourTexasBenefits.com.