Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller warned Pennsylvanians about misinformation regarding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits during the partial federal government shutdown.

“Misinformation is being spread to try to take advantage of confusion surrounding the partial federal government shutdown,” said Secretary Miller. “If you receive SNAP benefits, these benefits do not expire at the end of January and will be available as long as you do not spend the entire benefit.”

February benefits for SNAP were dispersed to Pennsylvanian recipients on January 16 and 17. These benefits will be available through February as long as recipients have a remaining balance. SNAP funds do not expire at the end of each month and are able to be spent for a calendar year.

DHS has received calls from SNAP recipients who believe that benefits must be spent by January 31 or they will expire. This is untrue, and any information being circulated suggesting otherwise is false. The early February payment will be available beyond this month as long as funds are not fully spent, and SNAP recipients must remember that this payment needs to last for all of February.

“It is imperative that SNAP recipients budget their benefits,” said Secretary Miller. “Planning meals ahead of time, looking for coupons in store circulars or online, and signing up for a store’s discount or bonus card can help your benefit go further. If SNAP recipients find themselves in a difficult situation, many charitable food organizations are preparing to meet this need if the partial federal government shutdown continues.”

On January 8, 2019, DHS received notice from the USDA that February SNAP benefits will be fully funded, but that these benefits needed to be issued by January 20. DHS worked closely with its vendors and were able to issue the February benefits to electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards by January 18. This early issuance is for SNAP recipients’ February benefit and will be the only benefit issuance SNAP recipients will receive for the month of February. Clients will not receive a SNAP benefit on their regularly scheduled February issuance date. DHS sent a letter to SNAP recipients last week to notify them of this change.

SNAP benefits beyond February will be determined based on the availability of USDA funds. The department is awaiting information from the USDA on plans for March benefits should the partial federal government shutdown continue.

DHS continues to process applications for all benefits during the shutdown. Recipients should continue to report changes and submit any semi-annual reviews or renewals they receive during this period to not risk an interruption of their benefits in the future.

Clients with questions about their benefits can contact their local County Assistance Office or can call the statewide customer service center at 1-877-395-8930. Clients who reside in Philadelphia should call 1-215-560-7226.