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FNS releases SNAP administrative waivers ahead of COVID-19 public health emergency expiration

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    FNS releases SNAP administrative waivers ahead of COVID-19 public health emergency expiration

    On August 15, the Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) issued guidance to assist Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) state agencies planning for the October 2022 expiration of the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) and corresponding administrative flexibilities authorized under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA; PL 116-127). FNS administers SNAP in partnership with states, 10 of which delegate that responsibility to counties: California, Colorado, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. These 10 county-administered states account for 31 percent of all SNAP program participants. Counties operating SNAP often contribute significant levels of local funds to meet the administrative and supplemental costs of running the program.

    When the federal PHE ends, state and county SNAP agencies may face many challenges with corresponding expiration of administrative flexibilities that have eased operational burdens during the pandemic. Many SNAP agencies have integrated systems with Medicaid, which will be subject to additional requirements with Medicaid redeterminations when the PHE unwinds. This will greatly impact county workforce capacity and resources to re-determine the eligibility of current individuals participating in these programs and determine the eligibility of new applicants. To ease the transition, FNS will allow states to apply for certain administrative waivers within the eligibility certification processes. The new waivers for post-pandemic program operations will be available to states for a limited period in the 12 months following the end of the federal PHE.

    The waiver options include:

    • Streamlining recertification procedures: State agencies may use periodic report procedures to establish a new certification period in lieu of routine recertification requirements.
    • Waiving the certification interview: State agencies may waive interviews at initial application or recertification, provided that the applicant’s identity has been verified and all other mandatory verifications have been completed.
    • Adjusting follow-up procedures when a household’s address changes and updated shelter costs is not reported: To promote better alignment with Medicaid, if the state agency has verified and cleared information that a household’s address changed but the updated shelter costs are unknown, the state agency may adjust follow-up procedures on address changes.
    • Allowing alternative methods for recording telephonic signatures: Allows for recording telephonic signatures through means other than creating an audio recording of the client’s verbal attestation. The state agency will document the verbal attestation in the case file and provide the client a written copy of the completed application, with instructions for correcting errors or omissions.

    NACo recently passed a resolution to support continued administrative flexibilities for federal human services and nutrition benefit programs post PHE as these changes have streamlined and eased paperwork burdens for both families and county eligibility workers without jeopardizing program integrity. NACo along with the National Association of County Human Services Administrators (NACHSA) sent a letter to Congress urging legislation to ease the transition from current pandemic-related administrative flexibilities within SNAP. Specifically, we asked to extend these flexibilities for six months after the expiration of the PHE to ensure that county agencies can continue to efficiently and effectively serve our residents in need of nutritional support.

    The PHE is currently set to expire on October 13 and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced it will announce the expiration 60 days prior to that date. NACo will continue to monitor how federal action on the unwinding of the PHE will impact agency operations.

    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

    • County News Article: When the public health emergency declaration ends, can flexibility for public assistance be retained?
    • NACo Policy Brief: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Reauthorization and Appropriations
    • NACo Blog: Lawmakers introduce compromise legislation to extend federal child nutrition flexibilities
    • NACo Blog: USDA announces $5 million in competitive grants for SNAP modernization
    • NACo Blog: US House of Representatives holds hearing on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
    • NACo Report: The County Human Services and Education Landscape
    On August 15, the Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) issued guidance to assist Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
    2022-08-18
    Blog
    2022-08-18
SNAP temporary administrative waivers available to state agencies to support unwinding from the COVID-19 public health emergency FNS is offering multiple waivers to assist SNAP agencies adjust their certification processes after the public health emergency ends Counties support extended flexibilities of SNAP benefits after the public health emergency ends to effectively serve residents

On August 15, the Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) issued guidance to assist Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) state agencies planning for the October 2022 expiration of the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) and corresponding administrative flexibilities authorized under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA; PL 116-127). FNS administers SNAP in partnership with states, 10 of which delegate that responsibility to counties: California, Colorado, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. These 10 county-administered states account for 31 percent of all SNAP program participants. Counties operating SNAP often contribute significant levels of local funds to meet the administrative and supplemental costs of running the program.

When the federal PHE ends, state and county SNAP agencies may face many challenges with corresponding expiration of administrative flexibilities that have eased operational burdens during the pandemic. Many SNAP agencies have integrated systems with Medicaid, which will be subject to additional requirements with Medicaid redeterminations when the PHE unwinds. This will greatly impact county workforce capacity and resources to re-determine the eligibility of current individuals participating in these programs and determine the eligibility of new applicants. To ease the transition, FNS will allow states to apply for certain administrative waivers within the eligibility certification processes. The new waivers for post-pandemic program operations will be available to states for a limited period in the 12 months following the end of the federal PHE.

The waiver options include:

NACo recently passed a resolution to support continued administrative flexibilities for federal human services and nutrition benefit programs post PHE as these changes have streamlined and eased paperwork burdens for both families and county eligibility workers without jeopardizing program integrity. NACo along with the National Association of County Human Services Administrators (NACHSA) sent a letter to Congress urging legislation to ease the transition from current pandemic-related administrative flexibilities within SNAP. Specifically, we asked to extend these flexibilities for six months after the expiration of the PHE to ensure that county agencies can continue to efficiently and effectively serve our residents in need of nutritional support.

The PHE is currently set to expire on October 13 and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced it will announce the expiration 60 days prior to that date. NACo will continue to monitor how federal action on the unwinding of the PHE will impact agency operations.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

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    <h3><strong>Counties Matter in Human Services</strong></h3>

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    Human Services & Education Steering Committee

    All matters pertaining to children’s issues, foster care,  public assistance and income support, services to senior citizens and individuals with disabilities, immigration policy, social services, and elementary, secondary and post-secondary education. Policy Platform & Resolutions 2022-2023 2022 NACo Legislative Priorities
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    <p>All matters pertaining to children&rsquo;s issues, foster care,&nbsp; public assistance and income support, services to senior citizens and individuals with disabilities, immigration policy, social services, and elementary,