Impacts of the Early Issuance of SNAP Benefits on Program Data Reporting
To continue access to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits during the lapse in appropriations, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) encouraged state SNAP agencies to use existing authority to issue February 2019 benefits in January 2019 to the extent possible. States worked closely with FNS and EBT processors, and about 86 percent of February SNAP benefits were issued in January.
Because administrative data reporting is designed around regular monthly SNAP issuance, the early issuance results in apparent anomalies in the appearance of the reports of SNAP participation and issuance for the months of January and February. Some small effects will linger into March and April, as states adjust issuance patterns to limit the time that any SNAP household goes without an issuance. We expect reporting to return to normal appearance in May 2019.
The unusual appearance of the data does not reflect significant changes in the number of households receiving SNAP benefits, nor in the average level of benefits they receive; rather, it reflects the way that data is aggregated and summarized over time in state and Federal reports. (See more)