Thousands of SNAP recipients to see reductions in benefits soon

BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) - A change in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also known as food stamps, as well as benefits through several other programs due to a cost of living adjustment.

A federal cost-of-living adjustment or COLA to Social Security and veterans benefits for 2018 will result in decreases to some Louisiana residents' SNAP benefits along with benefits through the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program (FITAP) and Kinship Care Subsidy Program (KCSP).

The COLA is based on changes in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, as measured from the third quarter of 2016 through the third quarter of 2017.

The 2018 COLA will result in a 2 percent increase in monthly Social Security Retirement, Suvivors 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. It will prompt an average monthly reduction in benefits of $6.50 for about 86,250 SNAP households which is 21 percent of total SNAP households in Louisiana and may trigger reductions in benefits for a small percentage of Louisiana households that receive FITAP or KCSP benefits.

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) receives an electronic file from the Social Security Administration that contains individual benefit amounts with those income changes being automatically updated on the SNAP, FITAP and KCSP cases, effective January 2018.

This COLA adjustment is separate from the SNAP COLA that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced in September. The SNAP COLA determines eligibility standards and allotment calculations for SNAP benefits. That COLA went into effect on October 1, when the 2017-18 federal fiscal year began.

The COLA for Social Security and veterans benefits determines the level of benefits recipients will receive from those sources (RSDI, SSI, VA). It will go into effect this month, with recipients seeing the changes in those benefits beginning on December 29 (SSI), December 31 (VA) and in January (RSDI).

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