Harrisburg, PA - Today, Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller reminded Pennsylvanians that safety-net programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid are available to individuals and families who are struggling to afford food or access health care.
Overall, enrollment in SNAP and Medicaid is growing – but not as dramatically as many expected when this crisis began. However, DHS continues to anticipate potential surges in applications because of decreased unemployment benefits and impacts from housing insecurity.
“We all need nutritious food to eat and clean water to drink. We all need a safe place to live. We all need access to healthcare – when we’re sick and when we’re not. And we all deserve the dignity of having those most basic needs met, especially when we fall on hard times,” Secretary Miller said. “Public assistance programs are here for any family that needs some extra help to make ends meet. Applying for these programs is an act of advocacy for yourself and your family, and I encourage all Pennsylvanians to take that step if they are struggling to afford food or if they lose their health insurance.”
Enrollment statewide for Medicaid has increased by 210,576 people since February, for a total enrollment of 3,042,139 people in August -- a 7.4 percent increase.
Pennsylvanians who have lost health coverage or are currently uninsured and need coverage for themselves or their children may qualify for coverage through Medicaid and CHIP. Medicaid and CHIP provide coverage for routine and emergency health services, tests and screenings, and prescriptions, and COVID-19 testing and treatment are covered by both Medicaid and CHIP. Medicaid and CHIP enroll individuals throughout the year and do not have a limited or special enrollment time, so people needing health coverage can apply for these programs at any time. There are income limits for Medicaid, but all children qualify for coverage through CHIP regardless of a household’s income.
Enrollment for SNAP statewide has increased by 105,624 people since February, for a total enrollment of about 1,843,083 in August -- a 6 percent increase.
DHS also relayed changes to SNAP made by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). FNS annually evaluates the income eligibility standards, the maximum thrifty food plan, and the minimum benefit amount.
Below are the SNAP income limits beginning October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021:
Maximum Gross Monthly Income
Each Additional Member
Factors that contribute to higher SNAP allowances and income limits in Pennsylvania include household size, monthly income, and if a member of your household is 60-years-old or older, or has a disability.
Additionally, below are the changes to the Maximum Thrifty Food Plan effective October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021. The Maximum Thrifty Food Plan is the maximum number of benefits a household can receive.
Maximum Thrifty Food Plan
Each Additional Member
There are no changes to the minimum benefit amount; it will remain at $16 through September 30, 2021.
SNAP currently helps more than 1.9 million Pennsylvanians, including children, people with disabilities, older adults, and working adults expand purchasing power to ensure their household has food. Inadequate food and chronic nutrient deficiencies have profound effects on a person’s life and health, including increased risks for chronic diseases, higher chances of hospitalization, poorer overall health, and increased health care costs. Children who have enough to eat go on to have higher graduation rates, increased adult earnings, and improved health outcomes in their adult life. Older adults who are enrolled in SNAP are healthier, hospitalized less and are less likely to go to a nursing home. As the nation faces the COVID-19 pandemic, access to essential needs like food is more important than ever to help keep people healthy and mitigate co-occurring health risks. Additionally, receiving SNAP can help free up money usually allocated to groceries that can be used to pay other necessary household expenses.
Pennsylvanians who need more immediate help feeding themselves or their family should find and contact their local food bank or pantry through Feeding Pennsylvania and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania.
Applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid can be submitted online at www.compass.state.pa.us. Applications are processed within six days on average for SNAP and 11 days on average for Medicaid. Once a benefit is approved, it can be immediately accessed. Pennsylvanians who need immediate help feeding themselves or their family can also find more information about food assistance resources for people around Pennsylvania impacted by COVID-19 and the accompanying economic insecurity here.
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