BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (NEWS RELEASE) — Food stamp recipients will see additional changes to their benefit amounts in coming months, with an increase in October followed by a decrease in November.
The program’s annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will provide an increase in the amount of benefits program recipients see, effective October 1, 2013. But reductions will follow, a result of the loss of funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was put in place in 2009. The part of the law that allowed increases was limited to five years, expiring November 1, 2013.
The decision for the reduction is based solely on federal requirements and the local office has no control over the amount of reductions.
“In other words, people will see an increase in benefits in October, but then see a reduction in November,” said Cathy Lytch, Director of Social Services. “We know this reduction will create a hardship, which is why we want people to be aware that there will be a decrease, so they can plan ahead.”
Brunswick County Social Services administers the Simplified Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps. The program has seen several changes recently, including an online application system called ePASS, available at epass.nc.gov, which is tied to the new NC FAST computer system.
Food stamp benefits are issued automatically on an EBT card monthly. The system will determine the reduction amount for each case. Brunswick County’s Social Services office will not be involved with processing the October increases or November decreases.
Recipients are encouraged to call the EBT call center at 1-866-719-0414 on their benefit issuance date to find out how much is on their card.
“We want people to realize it is not a glitch in the system, nor a decision made locally,” Lytch added.