Article by Matt Bailey, M.A., Benefits Counseling Coordinator, Achieva Family Trust
The Achieva Family Trust Benefits Counseling Program has been receiving calls concerning the 2023 Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA) and how this may impact government benefits, specifically Medical Assistance and SNAP. This type of SSA COLA increase (8.7%) occurs infrequently, so it’s natural that there are many questions and concerns involving benefit eligibility. Here is what individuals can expect with each benefit:
The Department of Human Services (DHS) is not to apply the 2023 COLA to MA eligibility until a month after the new Federal Poverty Level (FPL) guidelines are released. In this case, the guidelines were released this month (February), so the adjustments are not applied to MA eligibility until March, 2023. Individuals started receiving their COLA adjustments prior to the FPL updates, resulting in the delay in the application of the COLA for eligibility standards.
The COLA's are currently being applied to SNAP (Food Stamp) eligibility. Any significant changes in income automatically result in a new SNAP review and budget. Individuals should start receiving DHS PA162 notices detailing the change in their SNAP benefit amount or termination. I encourage these individuals to advise DHS of any changes in their room and board amounts, dependent care costs, child support (court ordered) and total out-of-pocket medical expenses, as these all can be applied as standard deductions to reduce reported monthly income to help individuals remain eligible for SNAP benefits.
The Pandemic-era boost in SNAP benefits is ending, effective March 2023. This emergency allotment gave individuals and families an increase in their monthly SNAP benefit, helping to provide ongoing food security. SNAP recipients will now return to their standard benefit amounts. The end of this provision will undoubtedly compound the growing food insecurities already facing low-income families across the country.
If anyone has any questions regarding the 2023 SSA COLA and how it pertains to benefit eligibility or would like general information on government benefits, please contact me at 412-995-5000 x 633 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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