Temporary increase to SNAP benefits ends Friday


People who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, may see their payments decrease after Friday.

The South Carolina Department of Social Services says the temporary increase in SNAP benefits provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), commonly known as the stimulus package, expires Oct. 31. Congress has not voted to extend this stimulus funding.

"It will be tight, more tight. It's already been tight, so it will be more tight for me," said Shana Johnson, outside the DSS office in North Charleston.

"Ain't nothing you can do about it. If they cut you, they cut you. You just got to go by the system," said SNAP recipient Robert Jones.

SNAP recipients will see a drop in the amount of their monthly benefits. DSS says people whose benefit amounts have changed should have been notified by mail.

As of September 2013, 877,498 South Carolina residents, representing 417,696 households, receive more than $115.6 million in SNAP benefits.


Q. What is the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)?

A. ARRA is also known as the stimulus package, a piece of legislation that provided a temporary boost in SNAP benefits to help individuals and families impacted by the economic downturn. It became law in 2009 in response to the recession.

Q. How did ARRA affect SNAP?

A. ARRA increased the maximum SNAP allotment to provide larger benefit amounts to clients temporarily. The portion of the ARRA legislation that provided these additional benefits ends on October 31.

Q. When will the changes from ARRA go into effect?

A. SNAP benefits will decrease starting November 1, 2013.

Q. How much will my benefits change on Nov. 1, 2013?

A. Benefits depend on many things that are specific to each household, like income, household size and expenses.  So it is hard to generalize how much each household's benefits will change.

Q. How will I be notified of a change in my SNAP benefits?

A. Notices are sent in the mail. You may also hear about these changes via the news, at your local DSS office, or from retailers where you shop with your SNAP benefits.

Q. How do I check the balance for my SNAP benefits to know how much I have?

A. In South Carolina, a couple of easy ways are:

  • Check the SNAP balance on your last grocery receipt. 
  • Check SNAP on the Internet; sign in and check your balance online at https://www.ebtaccount.jpmorgan.com/.
  • Call the toll-free number on the back of your EBT card.

Q. What if there is a mistake in my new benefit amount?

A. An appeal cannot be made to a federal law. Therefore, these changes are not subject to a fair hearing because these changes in SNAP benefits are required by federal law.

Q. How can I figure out how to feed my family healthful foods on a lower budget?

A. Go to the SC DSS website for ideas: https://dss.sc.gov.  Look for the button: SNAP Changes Fall 2013.