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SNAP COVID-19 Waivers

End of the Public Health Emergency Unwinding Efforts

Preparing for Changes in Student Eligibility Following the End of the COVID-19 PHE: The rules concerning student eligibility for SNAP are changing due to the lifting of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) on May 11, 2023. To help state agencies prepare for these changes, FNS has consolidated and is sharing existing resources related to student eligibility.

Expiration of Program Flexibilities for the COVID-19 PHE: Table summarizing the timelines for ending PHE flexibilities. These flexibilities include waivers of SNAP regulations, adjustments of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, temporary changes to eligibility criteria for ABAWDs and students, and the issuance of EAs during the PHE.

Resource Materials and Policy Memos to Support the End of the COVID-19 PHE: FNS is providing a comprehensive list of SNAP resource materials and policy memos to equip state agencies with key information to prepare for the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

SNAP Institutions of Higher Education and Student Eligibility Rules: This memo serves to clarify two elements of longstanding SNAP policy: which individuals are considered enrolled in an IHE and, therefore, subject to the student eligibility rules, and which students are exempt from the SNAP work requirements.

Preparing for Reinstatement of the Time Limit for ABAWDs: Critical decision points and important resources state agencies should reference as they plan to reinstate the ABAWD time-limit.

SNAP Workload Management Matrix: Provides an overview of available state options, process improvements and administrative and demonstration waivers state agencies may implement to help manage their workload. This updated resource (first shared in 2013) reflects regulatory changes since the first iteration as well as additional tactics state agencies may wish to consider.

SNAP EA Provision in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023: The law terminates EA after the issuance of February 2023 benefits. Therefore, the last benefit month that may include EA is February 2023.

Preparing for the End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: Opportunities to Support Medicaid and SNAP Unwinding Efforts: This slide deck outlines key requirements for returning to normal operations in Medicaid & SNAP when the COVID-19 PHE ends.

SNAP End of Temporary Student Exemptions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021: This memorandum provides guidance to SNAP state agencies on the end of the temporary student exemptions as described in Section 702(e) of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA).

SNAP Preparing for Reinstatement of Time Limit for ABAWDs: This memorandum provides guidance to help states prepare to implement the SNAP time limit for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) once the temporary and partial suspension under the Family First Coronavirus Act (FFCRA) lapses.

SNAP Temporary Administrative Waivers Available to State Agencies to Support Unwinding from the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: FNS issued guidance to assist SNAP state agencies planning for the expiration of the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE).


Key Flexibilities

Emergency Allotments (EA): FNS is approving states to issue emergency supplements to SNAP households that normally receive less than the maximum benefit.

Pandemic EBT (P-EBT): FNS is allowing states to provide benefits (similar to SNAP or “food stamps”) to children who normally receive free or reduced-price school meals.

SNAP Online Purchasing: FNS rapidly expanded SNAP online purchasing to support social distancing, bringing access to nearly three-quarters of the states, covering 90% of SNAP households.

Additional State Flexibilities: The Continuing Appropriations Act 2021 allows states to adopt certain options without FNS action.


Additional Flexibilities

Able-bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWDs) Time Limit Suspension: FNS issued guidance to states suspending the time limit associated with ABAWD work requirements during the national emergency.

Additional Funding for Block Grants: FNS is providing up to $300 million in additional funding to nutrition assistance program block grants in Puerto Rico, the Northern Marianas, and American Samoa.

Application Processing: Adjustments to support application processing by state agencies given pandemic conditions.

Claims: Flexibility in establishing or disposing of claims.

Fair Hearings: Flexibility regarding fair hearing timeframes.

Flexibility for States With Increasing Workloads: As states experience increased workload due to the COVID-19 impact, USDA is reminding states that, very recently on February 6, FNS issued the Revised Guidance for Use of Vendor/Private Staff in Call Centers.

Quality Control: Adjustments related to quality control processes and procedures.

Reporting: Adjustments related to participant reporting requirements or timelines.

Suspend Issuance of Excessive Card Replacement Notices: FNS will allow states to temporarily suspend issuance of replacement card notices due to office closures and mandated remote work. At the conclusion of this waiver period, the state agency will send the delayed notices to affected households.

Other: Adjustments related to other elements of SNAP administration.

View SNAP waivers


Other Resources

SNAP Provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021: This information memorandum describes the SNAP-related COVID-19 relief previsions in the Act.

Extension of SNAP COVID-19 Administrative Flexibilities, January 2022 and Beyond: This memo replaces the previous guidance, SNAP Extension of COVID-19 Administrative Flexibilities: May 2021 and Beyond, and provides information on how states can request certain SNAP COVID-19 administrative flexibilities beginning January 2022 under authority of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

Questions & Answers: Information on SNAP flexibilities in response to COVID-19, including authorities as provided through FFCRA.

Page updated: January 10, 2024