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Federal Cost of Living Adjustment Will Affect SNAP and Other Benefits Received Through DCFS

Cost Neutrality Requirement for LaCAP Also Means Change in Benefits for a Few SNAP Recipients

BATON ROUGE - A federal cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to Social Security and veterans benefits for 2020 will result in decreases to some Louisiana residents' Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also known as food stamps, as well as benefits through the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program (FITAP).

The COLA is an annual adjustment based on changes in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, as determined by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The 2020 COLA will result in a 1.6% increase in monthly Social Security Retirement, Survivors and Disability Insurance (RSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Veterans Administration (VA) benefits. The increase in income will affect eligibility and federal benefits for some Louisiana households.

In January, 94,827 SNAP households (about 25% of all SNAP households in Louisiana) will see an average reduction of $9 in monthly benefits, due primarily to the COLA. Another 226 SNAP cases will close, as the increased income pushes those households over the eligibility limit. The COLA also will trigger reductions in benefits for 11 Louisiana households that receive FITAP.

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) receives an electronic file from the Social Security Administration that contains individual benefit amounts. Those income changes have been automatically updated on the SNAP and FITAP cases and will be effective January 2020.

LaCAP Changes Required for Cost Neutrality
Also in January, about 550 Louisianans who receive SNAP benefits through the Louisiana Combined Application Project (LaCAP) will see changes in their monthly benefit amount due to changes in the program's shelter expense thresholds. These changes are unrelated to the 2020 COLA.

LaCAP is a simplified version of SNAP for Louisiana residents who are at least 60 years old and receive SSI. As a demonstration project, LaCAP is required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to remain cost neutral. That means the amount of benefits issued through LaCAP must not be higher or lower than would be issued through regular SNAP.

Based on the results of a recent cost neutrality survey, FNS recommended new shelter expense thresholds to keep LaCAP cost neutral. The monthly benefit allotment amounts did not change. However, 553 recipients (out of 6,589 total LaCAP cases) now fall into a different allotment tier based on the new combined expense thresholds, with 541 of those recipients seeing a decrease in benefits and 12 seeing an increase. The remaining 6,036 recipients will see no change in their benefits based on the new shelter expense thresholds.

For more information about LaCAP or about regular SNAP, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/SNAP.

For more information about the federal COLA, visit the Social Security Administration at www.ssa.gov/cola and the Veterans Administration at www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/rates-index.asp#cola.

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SNAP Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its agencies, offices and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, religious creed, disability, age, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the agency (state or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form (AD-3027) found online at: How to File a Complaint, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

1. Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

2. Fax: (202) 690-7442; or

3. Email: program.intake@usda.gov.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.