Emergency Food Supplements

Created on: 
Mar 31 2020
Revised September 11, 2020

Purpose:

This section lists emergency rules related to food assistance programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

WAC 388-437-0005 - Changes to food assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

WAC 388-437-0010 - Pandemic EBT Benefits

WAC 388-437-0020 - Availability of Pandemic EBT benefits

  • Clarifying Information

Clarifying Information - WAC 388-437-0005

NOTE: Emergency Supplements were issued for the months of March, April, May, June, July, August, and September 2020. Ongoing supplements are subject to federal approval.

Supplemental Issuance

  • Households on food assistance are eligible for a supplemental benefit issuance to increase their benefits to the maximum allotment for their household size starting with the month of March and will continue on a month to month basis.
    • Supplements may continue if the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) approves and the federal public health proclamation and state disaster declaration continues.
  • Households already receiving the maximum allotment will not receive this supplement.
  • Households that qualify for a supplement include:
    • Households on TFA, WASHCAP, SNAP and FAP.
    • Approved applications regardless of their application date (i.e. prorated benefits).
    • Households approved for assistance but receiving a $0 allotment.
  • Staff will continue to determine the correct regular eligibility amount for the household..
    • Historic overpayments/underpayments will need to be reviewed to see if the household received the maximum allotment for the month.
    • Household cannot receive more benefits than the maximum allotment for their household size.
  • These supplements are not subject to overpayment, unless the household is found ineligible for Basic Food.
Example: Tomas applied for benefits on March 16th and completed an interview the same day. The worker processes and approves the case with prorated benefits in March of $97 and full allotment of $194 in April. Tomas receives combined issuance of $291 on his EBT card the next day. After the system delivers the mass issuance, an additional $97 emergency supplement will appear on Tomas’s EBT to ensure he receives the maximum food amount of $194 for March, but the system will not issue an emergency supplement for April as Tomas already qualifies for the maximum benefit of $194.
  • If the only reason the household is receiving less than the maximum is due to a recoupment, then the household is not eligible for the emergency supplement.
Example: Heather was approved in January for the maximum food allotment of $194, but due to an overpayment, $10 is recouped each month. Heather receives $184 per month. She will not be eligible for an emergency supplement in March and April as she is eligible for the maximum allotment.

Automatic Issuance:

Prior to April 16th: 

  • An automatic mass supplement was issued for March benefits to all households on April 3rd and was available the following day, April 4th.
    • Aces.Online Benefit Issuance history will show emergency supplements as FS/EBT-Supplemental Issuance – 863 for the months of March and/or April after automatic mass supplements are completed.
  • The April supplements were available either:
    • April 4th if the households normal availability date is between April 1st to April 3rd, or
    • On the client's normal availability date.
  • AU’s that are closed with a paid thru date of 3/31/2020 will receive a supplement for March, but not automatically for April.
  • Notices will be suppressed.

Starting April 16th:

  • The system will automatically determine the emergency supplement amount owed to the client after approving an application or reinstatement in overnight batch.
  • Staff only need to complete a manual BEG when adding a person. See Worker Responsibilities.
    • Emergency supplements will show in Aces.Online as FS/EBT-Supplemental Issuance – 863 after overnight batch.
Example: Jon and his partner were certified from November 30th to October 31st to receive $200 per month in food assistance due to household income. Their issuance date is the 11th of each month. As the maximum allotment for a two-person household is $355 per month, Jon and his partner will receive $155 emergency supplement after the automatic issuance for March, and the full maximum allotment of $355 on April 11th.
Example: Pheobe applies for food assistance on April 5th after she lost her job. The worker interviews her on April 17th, determines her eligible and approves the prorated benefit amount of $168 from the date of application. The system will automatically issue emergency supplements in overnight batch for $26 to give her the maximum $194 standard for a one person household in April.
Example: Anita and her spouse applied for benefits on March 27th and interviewed on the April 16th. The worker was able to verify Anita is receiving Unemployment Compensation of $400 per week. The worker processes and approves the case with $0 benefits in March and the minimum allotment of $16 in April. The system will automatically issue emergency supplements in overnight batch for $355 in March and $339 to the household in April.  
Example: Peter works and normally receives $124 per month in food assistance. Peter forgot to complete his March MCR. He received a termination notice that his benefits are closed as of March 31st. Peter calls to complete his MCR on April 16th reporting no changes. Peter asks about an extra $73 on his EBT card. The worker explains the supplement was issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as we are issuing maximum monthly allotments in March and April.
The worker reinstates Peter for April and he is still eligible for $124 per month in food assistance. The system will automatically issue an emergency supplement in overnight batch for $73 April, and are available the following day.  

Manual BEGS

  • Starting April 16th, staff will need to review cases for a Manual BEG only when adding a new person to the assistance unit.
  • A new BEG type Emergency Supplement – ES was created to provide supplements manually for cases needing to add a person.
    • This is important to track the funds for this program.
  • Letters will not generate when the BEG Emergency Supplement– ES is released.
    • We do not require a notice for these emergency supplements.

Worker Responsibilities - WAC 388-437-0005

Confirming automatic mass issuance:

Staff can confirm the automatic benefits by reviewing Benefit Issuance history in Aces.Online. The emergency supplements for the month will display as FS/EBT – Supplemental Issuance (863).

Supplements for April and any future months will be available to the household on their regular availability date.

Starting April 16th, households finalized or reinstated will receive the emergency supplement in overnight batch. Advise the household that if they qualify for an emergency supplement, it will be available the following day.

Note: If the household is a SNAP/FAP mixed household, each month will display a FS/EBT – Supplemental Issuance (863) for a SNAP supplement and a FAP supplement.

Manual BEGs:

Starting April 16th, staff are no longer required to process a manual BEG unless they are adding a person(s) to the AU. Follow the ACES Manual - How do I add a person to an existing Assistance Unit (AU)?

  1. Once finalized, the individual will be denied in the initial month and then added in the following month.
    1. As the individual is not eligible in the initial month, do not issue an emergency supplement.
  2. In the following month, confirm the supplement reason as Add a Person (AP). Release the supplement and add text to the notice.
  3. Review the new total benefit amount for the household to determine if an emergency supplement is needed:
    1. If the new benefit amount is the maximum allotment for the new household size, no emergency supplement is needed.
    2. If the new AP supplement and original monthly allotment amount does not total the new household maximum benefit amount, review if an additional emergency supplement (ES) is needed.
      1. Subtract the new benefit amount from the maximum household allotment.
      2. Create a Manual BEG in ACES mainframe for the difference using ES type. To create a manual BEG, see Mainframe Processing - How do I manually create an overpayment or underpayment?
Note: You may be prompted for either soft edit:
1598, " REASON SHOULD NOT BE USED IF AUTO WILL OR DID ISSUE THE SUPPLEMENT"
0294, "SHOULD AMOUNT BE > $499?"

Once you verify the Manual BEG is needed and correct, press F4 to pass the soft edit.

Example: Robert gets the regular benefit amount of $194 per month. In March, he requested his daughter be added to his active food assistance. The worker pends the case for the daughters SSN. On April 10th, the SSN is provided and the daughter is added to the food assistance. The worker confirms the supplement of $355 for a two person household, he is not eligible for an additional emergency supplement.
Example: Jose and his partner regularly receive $200 per month in food assistance. Jose has taken custody of his grandchild with income and completed a change of circumstance in March. Jose received an emergency supplement of $155 received on April 4th after mass issuance for a two person household.
On April 6th, the worker processes the request to add the child. After completing the add a person, it results in a supplement of $100. The worker reviews the total allotment issued to the household:
$200 + $155 emergency supplement + $100 add a person = $455 April total issuance
$509 (3 person max) - $455 = $54 is what is owed for April, create a Manual ES BEG.

 

Clarifying Information - WAC 388-437-0010

P-EBT Eligibility

Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) Benefits are benefits for households with school age children participating in a Free or Reduced Lunch Program in lieu of meals they would eat at school if not for closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. P-EBT benefits cover school closures effective March 13, 2020 to the end of the academic school year (June 19, 2020). The reimbursement rate is $5.70 per school day (Monday – Friday) per eligible child in the household.

  • Receipt of food assistance is not a requirement for P-EBT eligibility.
  • Applicants for P-EBT are not required to:
    • Participate in an interview
    • Provide a telephonic signature
    • Complete an Interactive Interview Declaration
    • Meet citizenship requirements
  • A school age child is defined as:
    • A child up to 17 years old; or
    • A child 18 to 21 attending high school.
  • P-EBT applications will not be accepted after September 11, 2020 at 5:00 pm.
Note: When processing an application for food assistance, make the household aware of the P-EBT program and use the OSPI Search tool to determine eligibility for P-EBT benefits.

P-EBT Benefits for AUs Receiving Basic Food

  • Active assistance units (AUs) eligible for P-EBT include households:
    • Receiving Basic Food, including SNAP, FAP, or TFA with a paid through date of 6/30/2020.
    • Eligible for the minimum $0 allotment.
    • With a school age child as defined above coded in ACES.
  • P-EBT benefits were issued to the current EBT card of the active Basic Food AU.
  • The P-EBT amount is determined by the date the AU became eligible for Basic Food.
  • Active Basic Food AUs in March and ongoing received a mass issuance for March, April, May and June 2020.
  • Active Basic Food AUs that became eligible for Basic Food after March will receive an issuance for the remaining months.
    • If a child became eligible in:
      • April 2020, the child is eligible for April, May and June.
      • May 2020, the child is eligible for May and June.
      • June 2020, the child is eligible for June only.
  • Barcode generated a tickle for any AU eligible for Basic Food starting April. See Worker Responsibilities below.
Example: Robert is receiving food assistance with his 1st grader Donna (6). The household is certified for Basic Food January 1st to December 30th. As he and Donna are active on food from March to June, the P-EBT benefits issued are for March – June 2020.
Example: Donna lost her job due to COVID-19 layoffs and applied for Basic Food for herself and 3 children in May. The household  is eligible for Basic Food benefits. A Barcode tickle is created for staff to review P-EBT eligibility for her 3 school age children in March and April. Staff review the OSPI P-EBT Search site to verify the children's eligibility for free or reduce-priced meals in the months of March and April. The children are not found on the search site in the months of March and April. The P-EBT benefits issued are for the months of May and June.

P-EBT Mass Issuance Availability Dates

FS AU Ends In

P-EBT Benefit Available

Availability Date

1

1 day after mass issuance

June 28

2

2 days after mass issuance

June 29

3

3 days after mass issuance

June 30

4

4 days after mass issuance

July 1

5

5 days after mass issuance

July 2

6

6 days after mass issuance

July 3

7

7 days after mass issuance

July 4

8

8 days after mass issuance

July 5

9

9 days after mass issuance

July 6

0

10 days after mass issuance

July 7

 

P-EBT Benefits for Households Not Receiving Basic Food

  • Households not receiving Basic Food but have a school age child eligible for free or reduced price school lunch program will need to contact the department to apply for P-EBT benefits.
  • A household can apply for P-EBT benefits by:
    • Completing an online application through the Washington Connections ; or
    • Calling the Customer Service Contact Centers and requesting P-EBT benefits.
  • Applying for Basic Food is not required to qualify for P-EBT.
    • If the household is interested in pursuing regular Basic Food in addition to P-EBT, process the Basic Food application in addition to the P-EBT.
    • Do not delay the P-EBT determination when pending Basic Food for verification.
  • Staff will use the OSPI P-EBT Search site to verify P-EBT eligibility after an application is received.  

P-EBT Benefit Amounts:

  • The daily amount is $5.70 per eligible child.
  • The total for all four months (March to June 2020) is $399 per eligible child.

     

Month

Days of School

Dollars per child

March 2020

12

$68.40

April 2020

22

$125.40

May 2020

21

$119.70

June 2020

15

$85.50

 

Example: Tim and his three children, Betsy (15), Stan (15) and Nancy (19) applied for and started receiving Basic Food in April 2020. Tim and Nancy are not in school. ACES issues P-EBT of $661.20 for Betsy and Stan. Barcode will generate a tickle. Staff will determine if the children qualify for P-EBT benefits for March by using the OSPI P-EBT Search site to verify eligibility for free or reduced meals at school.

 

Worker Responsibilities – WAC 388-437-0010

Confirming automatic mass issuance:

  • On the evening of June 27, 2020, ACES performed the one time issuance to active (or closed with a paid thru date of 6/30/20) Basic Food AUs containing at least one P-EBT eligible child.
  • Staff can confirm the automatic issuances by reviewing Benefit Issuance history in Aces.Online. The issuances for each month will display as FS/EBT – Pandemic EBT Supplement (862).
  • Existing households who started receiving Basic Food after March will get a partial issuance. A Barcode tickle will generate for staff to screen a second Basic Food AU for P-EBT approval or denial for the missing months. Process Barcode ticklers using the procedures explained in CSD Procedures Handbook.

Manual BEG:

Starting June 29, 2020, staff may need to use a new BEG type School Supplement - SS to issue P-EBT benefits manually for newly approved Basic Food households in the following two situations:

  1. If the child is not found on the OSPI Search Site, then create a manual SS BEG based on Basic Food begin date using the newly approved Basic Food AU.

    Example: Tomas submitted an application for Basic Food on June 15th for himself and his 9 year old son, Angel. Tomas in interviewed on July 1st and approved on Basic Food from June 15th to May 31st. Angel is not found on the OSPI search site as a recipient of free/reduced lunch.

    The worker will create a manual SS BEG for the month of June to provide the household the P-EBT benefit.

  2. If the child is found on the OSPI Search Site:
    1. Create manual SS BEG based on Basic Food begin date using the newly approved Basic Food AU AND
    2. Staff will need to screen in a second FS AU for P-EBT only prior to Basic Food approval (DO NOT ISSUE A BEG)
Example: Juanita and her 11 year old twins complete a telephonic interview on June 30th for Basic Food. The household is approved for Basic Food from June 30th to May 31st. The twins are found as recipient of free/reduced lunch back to September 2019 using the OSPI search site.

The worker will create a manual SS BEG for the month of June using the newly approved Basic Food AU AND create a separate FS AU for P-EBT only approval for March, April, and May, which will process in overnight batch.

NOTE: If an application is being reconsidered, carefully review the Basic Food begin date. If the application goes back to the month of May, an SS BEG should be reviewed for May and June.

Letters:

Letters will not generate when the BEG School Supplement – SS is released.

  • We do not require an approval letter for P-EBT benefits.
  • Staff will create a General Correspondence letter when a P-EBT request is denied and add the appropriate canned text. The canned text is specific to the reason for the denial. The two reasons to deny P-EBT applications are:
    • The student's information is not on the OSPI P-EBT Search site; and
    • P-EBT benefits previously issued to the household.

EBT Card:

Staff will review Barcode EBT transactions to verify the household has an EBT card and they have used it within the past 60 days.

  • Staff will not manually issue an EBT card if transactions occurred on an EBT account within the past 60 days unless the household states they no longer have the EBT card.
  • Follow COVID-19 Temporary Procedures to issue EBT cards for those households that:
    • Do not have an EBT card,
    • Have not used one the past 60 days, or
    • Are requesting a new EBT card.

Clarifying Information WAC 388-437-0020

Children under the age of 5 may be eligible for P-EBT benefits if they attended a early learning facility operating as part of a public school district that participates in the National School Lunch Program. These eligible children are included in the OSPI Search Site.

Application deadline:

Staff will determine eligibility for P-EBT applications:

  • submitted online or by mail by 5:00 pm on September 11, 2020.
  • submitted telephonically by 3:00 pm on September 16, 2020.