As a result of the partial federal government shutdown, the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) has requested states provide early issuance of February benefits for those who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for food security.
Texans who receive those benefits will see them automatically loaded onto their Lone Star Card by Jan. 20.
Three and a half million people in Texas get the benefits.
The state says it will continue to accept and process applications, however, the early benefit disbursement means SNAP recipients whose benefits are up for recertification this month need to act immediately to collect those funds.
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"We need to process January recertification paperwork by January 15," said Matthew Wallen, director of the Division of Children and Family Services, which administers the SNAP program. "We are shifting personnel, authorizing overtime and working this Saturday and Sunday to process both recertifications and new applications to make sure recipients get their February benefits."
DHHS officials are advising that the extra effort to meet the early issuance recertification guidelines means some SNAP recipients will be getting phone calls from DHHS team members this weekend, as part of the recertification process.
"Team members will not ask you for your social security number," Wallen said. "We are working hard to expedite the recertification process while still protecting recipients' personal information."
Texas encourages recipients to use YourTexasBenefits.com or the Your Texas Benefits mobile app to view benefit information and keep up with any changes.
"This is NOT additional funds to SNAP recipients, but an early issuance of February benefits," reiterated Wallen. "Those who typically see additional funds added to their EBT card the first week of each month will see their February money by January 20, rather than at the beginning of next month."
DHHS is awaiting further direction regarding benefit issuance for January recertification that is completed or processed after January 15. The early issuance will proceed, even if the federal government shutdown ends prior to January 20.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Texas to issue February SNAP food benefits early due to government shutdown