D-SNAP: Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Life can be unexpected with twists and turns that you don’t see coming. While some unexpected life events can be amazing, like winning the lottery. Others can be challenging, like dealing with a natural disaster. There is a range of different natural disasters that individuals might deal with in their lives: hurricanes, tsunamis, and more. The federal government recognizes that when disasters happen, people require more help than usual. This is why the federal government established the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP). The D-SNAP is a part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

What is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)?

Many American households find themselves choosing between housing expenses and other bills rather than food. SNAP, also known as food stamps, can assist with nutritional support to qualifying low-income families. This includes seniors, households with disabled members, and more. This program is meant to help a wide range of people. But, the majority of the people who receive help are households with kids. The federal government divides the expenses of offering the program with state governments, which are the agencies responsible for operating SNAP.

If you are approved to get SNAP benefits you will receive an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card that receives money each month. The funds in the card can be used at stores that accept this payment method. You will be able to know how long you will get benefits if you are eligible for this assistance program.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Eligibility

Many American households appreciate the help they get from SNAP because it makes the cost of groceries easier to handle. Generally, eligibility guidelines and benefit levels are broadly determined across the United States, however, states can update sections of the program since they are responsible for operating the program. If you want to check whether you qualify or not, then you will need to contact your state agency. These applications are free, so there are no risks. However, you should keep in mind that this information applies from Oct. 1, 2023, to Sept. 30, 2024.

If you get approved, you will be reimbursed with benefits from the date that you sent in your application. Even though the state defines eligibility, you can assume that the recipients will be prioritized depending on need. Families that are in more financial need will get more benefits than families that are better off.

If a person is ineligible for SNAP then it could be relevant to their current situation. Individuals may be able to consider themselves as ineligible. This is because most college students, some legal immigrants, and individuals on strike due to a labor dispute will not qualify to get SNAP benefits, no matter what their income level is. But, even if you think you might not qualify, then it still would not hurt to send in an application.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Restrictions

Similar to any federal assistance option, there are limitations on benefits that families can get. This is why you need to verify your status by getting in contact with a professional from your state agency. A restriction you might face is that a majority of childless adults can get up to 3 months’ worth of benefits unless they work for a minimum of 20 hours per week or take part in qualifying programs. Additionally, states can choose to impose other restrictions when it comes to SNAP benefits such as work requirements, guidelines, and more.

What is D-SNAP?

D-SNAP is a federal program that offers food assistance to eligible families with food loss or damage that took place from a natural disaster. For a state to offer this type of assistance, the state must get an Individual Assistance declaration from the president. When a state receives this declaration, it will need to file a request from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to operate this program. The USDA will need to offer an appeal for the states to provide D-SNAP.

If the USDA approves of the state’s request to offer D-SNAP benefits then it will operate similarly to the SNAP. That means there will still be an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card that people can use at certain stores that allow the EBT cards as a form of payment.

What are D-SNAP Requirements?

Since D-SNAP is supposed to help people who are dealing with a disaster’s aftermath, the program requirements are different from other requirements. You might be able to get D-SNAP benefits if you are going through one of the following disaster-related issues:

  • Costs of evacuation
  • Relocation costs
  • Costs from personal injury
  • Repairs of homes
  • Business repairs
  • Temporary shelter costs
  • Lost income from the disaster or no access to income–this could include termination, delay, or decreased receipt of income, for a large portion of the benefit period.
  • Food loss from the aftermath of a disaster such a power outage or flooding (in some circumstances)

Additionally, you should keep in mind that if you are already getting SNAP benefits, then you can always request a supplement when your state starts providing D-SNAP. If you can get the supplement, then it will increase your benefits up to the maximum amount acceptable for your family size. For the supplement, you will need to meet the following conditions:

  • Currently, you are getting lower than the maximum benefits per month.
  • You are dealing with costs and losses because of a disaster.

As a person who already receives SNAP benefits, you could ask for replacement benefits for any eligible food items that you lost in the disaster that you bought with SNAP funds. If you have any questions about SNAP and D-SNAP, then you should contact your local office.

Applying for D-SNAP

If you are facing hardship because of a disaster, then you could gain a lot from applying for D-SNAP benefits. Generally, state agencies will offer information to the public eye through press and local media before the program starts. The information they offer should help you figure out the specifics of the program like how to apply, eligibility requirements, when they operate, and more. Another way that you can find out more information is through the SNAP state directory.

Other Assistance Programs

Aside from D-SNAP, there might be other assistance programs that can help people out if you are dealing with a disaster such as:

Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief Program for Individuals and Businesses

If you faced a federally-declared disaster, then you might have more time to file and pay the taxes that you owe with this assistance program. You can look through the specific information online through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) News From Around the Nation. All you would need to do is click on your state to find a list of returns and payments that qualify for an extension along with tax-related benefits.

If you want to be eligible for this program, then you would need to:

  • Stay in a county that the IRS recognizes as qualifying for disaster tax relief
  • Ensure that your current address is up to date with the IRS

The greatest advantage about this assistance program is that your account is automatically coded for filing and payment support as long as you meet the conditions. If you have any questions about the program, then you will need to contact the IRS disaster hotline at 1-866-562-5227.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance

Individuals that lost their job or had their jobs interrupted from a natural disaster might benefit from this program. You will need to meet the following requirements:

  •  Have your job interrupted or lost from a presidentially declared disaster
  • Cannot be eligible for the standard unemployment insurance benefits

Another important aspect of eligibility is if you stayed in, were employed, or were scheduled to work in an eligible area then you could qualify to get benefits if you:

  • Do not have a job anymore
  • No longer have a place to work
  • Cannot go to your job site
  • Cannot accomplish work duties due to damage to the job site from the disaster
  • Were about to start a new job that does not exist anymore from the disaster
  • Cannot work because of an injury that happened from the disaster
  • Had to become the head or support of the household, if the head of household passed away from the disaster

People who receive benefits from this program should work unless they cannot work because of an injury from the disaster, or if they are working on returning to self-employment. If you want to file a claim, then you will need to wait for your state to provide information about the program’s availability. You should contact your state’s unemployment agency as soon as you can.

Final Verdict

If you are facing a disaster, then you might feel alone, however, there is more support out there than you think. One of the great assistance options is the D-SNAP, which is a nutrition assistance program that can help eligible people that are facing a disaster. There are other programs that can help during a disaster, too! This includes the Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief Program for Individuals and Businesses and Disaster Unemployment Assistance. If you are in the middle of a crisis because of a natural disaster, then you should consider applying to one of these assistance options for help.