OKLAHOMA CAPITOL -- With the passage of the federal stimulus bill, Oklahomans who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits will have more buying power at the grocery store in April.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 raised maximum allotments for SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, by 13.6 percent.
“The bottom line is that SNAP recipients will receive more benefits and be able to purchase more food for their families,” said Kathie Wright. “This is good news not only for the families who receive the benefit but also for Oklahoma retailers and the state’s economy.”
In February, $47.7 million in SNAP funds were spent in Oklahoma. By applying the 13.6 percent increase to the February total, the stimulus will provide an additional $6.5 million in SNAP funds to be spent in Oklahoma grocery stores next month.
Beginning in April 2009, the additional benefits will automatically be added to the SNAP recipient’s Access Oklahoma Electronic Benefits Transfer card. SNAP recipients don’t need to fill out additional paperwork, Wright said.
The maximum monthly allotment for a four-person household in Oklahoma is increasing $80, from $588 to $668.
The stimulus bill also increases the minimum monthly benefit amount for one- and two-person households from $14 to $16.
The adjustments go into effect April 1, 2009 and will remain in effect until Sept. 30, 2009. The increased benefit levels during these months will remain as the new base for future benefits after September 2009, according to the federal Food and Nutrition Service.
The provisions of the stimulus package also include a relaxation in certain work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents beginning April 1, 2009. Individuals who have not been eligible for SNAP benefits because of these work requirements may now contact their OKDHS Human Services Center to reapply for SNAP benefits, Wright added.
OKDHS has the lowest error rate in its administration of the food benefit program in the agency's history. The accuracy rate is 94.4 percent.
"We have the highest accuracy rate we've ever had, and we have the highest accuracy rate in the region," said George Earl Johnson Jr., OKDHS director of communications. "This is important considering we are on track to distribute nearly a half a billion dollars in food benefits in Oklahoma in 2009."