IMPORTANT SNAP Benefits Update for Seniors! | This Needs To Happen Before December 15th

Lawmakers have until the December 3rd deadline to raise the debt ceiling before the U.S. defaults on its debt, although the estimate has recently been revised to December 15th by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Many are questioning whether a government shutdown will impact December federal benefits, especially those who depend on payments to pay bills, buy food and other necessities, and secure healthcare. This has been especially troubling for families that rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP), which is the nation’s most essential anti-hunger program. Roughly 42 million families depend on the SNAP program to feed their households, according to the latest government data. SNAP benefit amounts are updated each year based on the cost of the Thrifty Food Plan, one of four USDA-designed food plans that estimate the cost of a healthy diet across various price points.

Beneficiaries of SNAP and child nutrition do face a major risk if a government shutdown occurs, primarily because of the program’s funding structure, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. This was evident after the month-long shutdown in December 2018.The Department of Agriculture asked states to issue February 2019 SNAP benefits prematurely. If the shutdown had continued, the USDA had suggested that SNAP benefits would have fallen short by about half for March 2019 benefits. In addition, 5 million SNAP households experienced a gap of more than 40 days between monthly payments. However, there are protections in place to ensure that SNAP benefits go out in the event of a shutdown, at least temporarily. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service does have a contingency plan in the event of a shutdown due to a lapse in appropriations. The plan calls for the continuation of essential federal activities and funding, such as SNAP, but this plan only covers a few days after the shutdown begins.

In a letter to lawmakers earlier in November, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote that the federal government has until December 15th to pay its bills. After that, there are “scenarios in which Treasury would be left with insufficient remaining resources to continue to finance the operations of the U.S. government beyond this date". Both parties must come to an agreement on a stopgap measure by December 3rd to continue funding federal operations. In spite of the December 15th, 2021 deadline for Congress to extend the debt ceiling, it doesn’t look like an agreement will be reached.

Of course, the government does have options in situations like this. One option is that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer could possibly lead a filibuster for a week until the legislation passes using the budget reconciliation process, which requires a simple majority vote. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell could also elicit the 10 Republican votes required to pass the legislation. If neither scenario occurs, however, the federal government will be in default of its debt, without enough funding to run the country, and many programs and services could shut down.

But which services will close in the event of a government shutdown? And how will it affect average Americans? Let’s first look at what services and benefits will continue through a shutdown. Most notably, these include: Social Security and SSI checks, U.S. Postal Service deliveries, and VA medical facilities and clinics. Examples of services and benefits that won’t continue through a shutdown, however, include things like: veterans services, small business and home loan operations, the FDA and CDC, as well as other Federal administrative programs.

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