Highand County Job and Family Services Director Katie Adams told The Times-Gazette that local families using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program won’t have to wait as long as expected to get their March benefit amount.
She said that in order to rectify the situation caused by the recent government shutdown, the Ohio JFS office on Wednesday decided to issue half of March’s benefits on Friday, Feb. 22, and the remainder on their normally assigned monthly issuance date.
“The reason for this is due to a federal statute that states that benefits can’t go more than 40 days between issuance,” she said. “So with our office issuing February’s benefits early, that would cause some people to have been more than 40 days between their issuance dates.”
As previously reported, Ohio food stamp benefits for the month of February were disbursed on Jan. 16.
Ohio typically issues the monthly SNAP benefits to recipients on even-numbered days between the 2nd and 20th of the month, she said, and those who are in the program are given an issuance date based on their case number.
In Highland County, Adams said there are about 3,000 households receiving benefits that are downloaded to their Ohio Direction Card.
SNAP officials across the country, including Adams, worked hard to reassure food stamp recipients and explain to them that they would have to make their early distribution of benefits last longer than normal.
A news release from the Ohio Department of Job and Family services said that Ohio was expected to return to the standard benefits cycle in April, barring another government shutdown.
“It’s our hope that everything will, and should, go back to normal in April,” Adams said. “Since benefits are on a rolling schedule now, there were actually some people who received their February benefits before January’s, and the shutdown just messed everything up, so now we’re trying to fix it and make it better.”
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.