With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic sweeping the nation, the public is urged to cancel all their upcoming plans. As a result, a number of school closures, event cancellations, and businesses have temporarily shut their doors to help ward off the spread of the virus. So what does that mean for food stamp recipients?
Well, quite a lot actually. For those households that are receiving government assistance to meet their basic needs, this time is all that much harder and more stressful. Low-income Americans face the highest risk of impact due to the lack of access to healthcare and nutritional food.
Fortunately, relief will soon be on the way. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi has passed a bill to help provide support to low-income Americans facing crisis during the Coronavirus pandemic. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) bill passed March 18th.
The legislation provides support and relief to families that are at-risk for the Coronavirus. Here’s what we know about the Families First Coronavirus Act and how the Coronavirus effects food stamp recipients.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act will provide assistance to low-income American families during the Coronavirus outbreak. The bill aims to provide support and peace of mind to those families that are considered to be the first priority during a crisis.
Low-income families that are currently receiving government assistance are the most at-risk because of their lack of access to resources. According to a statement released by Speaker of the House, Nancy Polosi–
“The FFCRA is focused directly on providing support for America’s families, who must be our first priority in this emergency. We cannot fight coronavirus effectively unless everyone in our country who needs to be tested knows they can get their test free of charge. We cannot slow the coronavirus outbreak when workers are stuck with the terrible choice between staying home to avoid spreading illness and the paycheck their family can’t afford to lose.”
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act will provide:
- Free Coronavirus Testing
- Paid Emergency Leave
- Enhanced Unemployment Insurance
- Increased Medicaid Funding
- Strengthened Food Security Initiatives
For more details and information on each of the proposed areas of support, continue reading below.
Free Coronavirus Testing
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act will provide free Coronavirus testing to anyone that needs it–including the uninsured. Testing for COVID-19 is available in every state.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Coronavirus symptoms can range from mild to severe. Symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath may appear 2-14 days after exposure.
Symptoms are more severe in individuals classified as “at-risk.” The highest-risk includes individuals with underlying conditions, struggle with obesity, smoke, and are older in age.
What To Do if you have Coronavirus
During this time it is of the utmost importance that you limit your exposure. The CDC recommends that you wash your hands and disinfect surfaces frequently, stay home, avoid public areas, and do not use public transportation.
If you think you may have Coronavirus, you are instructed to contact your local state health department. Click here to find the closest Coronavirus testing location to you.
Paid Emergency Leave
The paid emergency leave included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act covers up to two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave. This allows individuals affected by the Coronavirus the space to stay home and get better. It also limits the exposure when it comes to putting more people at-risk.
Paid Emergency Leave benefits will equal two-thirds of prior average wages. These benefits are not taxable and include a monthly cap at $4,000.
Enhanced Unemployment Insurance
The legislation provides a temporary increase in the distribution of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. This effort will extend protections to furloughed workers and provide economic security to those that may lose their job as a result of the pandemic.
This initiative promotes short-term compensation programs through the state including 100 percent federal funding to extended benefits (EB) programs. Enhancing the Unemployment Insurance initiative will also ease the UI eligibility requirements for those that have been affected by Coronavirus.
Increased Medicaid Funding
The legislation increases the federal share of Medicaid funding by eight percentage points, but only if states maintain or increase current eligibility and other program standards. This is an effort to help support states as they experience increased Medicaid spending.
Strengthened Food Security Initiatives
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act will expand several food initiative programs in an effort to support those facing food insecurity. This is the biggest thing that food stamp recipients need to pay attention to. Here’s how the bill to fight Coronavirus effects food stamp recipients.
Key Food Security Initiatives:
- Households with children receiving free school meals will be provided with food benefits
- Food banks will receive increased food supply and storage for affected households
- The Senior SNAP will provide additional home-delivered meals to low-income seniors
- Able-bodied adults without children do not have to work to receive food stamps
- WIC assistance is available to individuals at-risk of losing their job
Coronavirus effects Food Stamp Recipients
We have highlighted the details of the legislation for each initiative below.
Increased Food Stamp Benefits
In response to COVID-19, Governor Kemp announced that Georgia food stamp recipients should expect to receive extra benefits. On average, recipients will receive an additional $100 in SNAP benefits. This benefits increase will be included with your regularly scheduled April food stamps.
To learn more about the increased SNAP benefits due to Coronavirus and find out exactly how much you will receive, click here.
Children Receiving School Meals
With school closures due to COVID-19 outbreak, kids receiving assistance cannot get their normal meal program. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act will provide temporary assistance benefits to those households with children that receive free or reduced school meals. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will distribute the benefits.
Food Banks to Increase Capacity
The legislation will provide the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) with a $400 million increase in funding. This will help local food banks get more food and increase their storage capacity for that food. The increased food supply aims to provide additional assistance to more local low-income families.
Home Meal Delivery for Seniors
Low-income or disabled seniors that have been affected by Coronavirus or are homebound will be provided with home-delivered meals. The legislation will provide the Senior Nutrition Program with an injection of $250 million, which will provide 25 million additional delivered meals to low-income seniors.
Work Requirements for Able Bodied Adults without Children
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act will postpone the work requirements bill for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD). The bill scheduled to go into affect on April 1, 2020 requires ABAWD food stamp recipients to work a minimum of 20 hours per week. The SNAP work requirements will not go into affect during the Coronavirus public health crisis.
Increased Assistance for Women, Infants & Children
The special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is expected to receive a cash surge of $500 million. This will go towards helping those parents with young children that might lose their jobs or get laid off as a result of the Coronavirus.
The $2 trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill signed into law by President Trump will provide households with $1,200 stimulus checks. Adults with an annual income up to $75,000 should expect to receive a $1,200 payment from the government in April.
Who will receive checks?
- Adults that make up to $75,000 per year will receive $1,200
- Married couples that make up to $150,000 per year will receive $2,400
- Adults listed as “Head of Household” will receive their payment above, plus an additional $500 for every child under 17
- Adults that make $75,000-$99,000 per year will receive a reduced payment ($5 deduction for every $100 in income above $75,000)
Who won’t get a check?
The majority of people excluded from receiving a payment are the wealthy, “nonresident aliens” and “dependents” who can be claimed on someone else’s tax return.
When will payments go out?
For most Americans, stimulus payments are expected to arrive starting April 17th via direct deposit. Mailed checks may take longer to receive.
The stimulus payment schedule will be released on a tiered basis. Payments are expected to be released starting at low income levels, as they are considered most at-risk.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act Updates
According to Speaker Pelosi, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act is expected to be passed today, Friday, March 13th. We will continue to update this story and provide additional information as it becomes available.
To learn about the Coronavirus Relief Assistance in Georgia that is available to you, check out our post here.
If you have lost your job due to COVID-19, click here to find out how to file for Unemployment in Georgia. Also, find out how to shop online with Georgia EBT while you are home during COVID-19.
For more information about Coronavirus Effects Food Stamp benefits, click here follow our blog.