After government shutdown, Social Services plans to release benefits early

Virginia Mercury

To help make up for the unusual timing of benefit releases around the government shut down, the Virginia Department of Social Services will release some benefits to its clients early for the month of March.

Typically, DSS issues the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits on a staggered basis, but in March it will release them to all clients on March 1, according to a news release.

“This change is intended to help close the gap for clients who have been stretching benefits since mid-January as a result of the early release of February benefits during the partial federal government shutdown,” Toni Blue Washington, director of benefits program with DSS, said in the release. “We understand the challenges individuals and families have been facing, and want to ensure Virginians who rely on SNAP benefits are provided some relief.”

The department released its February benefits in January to ensure that clients received them despite the shutdown.

“The uncertainty during and after the shutdown increased anxiety in low-income households,” said Salaam Bhatti, a public benefits attorney with the Virginia Poverty Law Center. “It’s great to see DSS provide this relief to low-income families following the early release of February benefits in mid-January. It is important for SNAP recipients to remember that SNAP benefits will not expire if not used by month’s end.”

From The Bulletin, the Mercury’s blog, where we post quick hits on the news of the day, odds and ends and commentary.

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Katie O'Connor
Katie, a Manassas native, has covered health care, commercial real estate, law, agriculture and tourism for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond BizSense and the Northern Virginia Daily. Last year, she was named an Association of Health Care Journalists Regional Health Journalism Fellow, a program to aid journalists in making national health stories local and using data in their reporting. She is a graduate of the College of William and Mary, where she was executive editor of The Flat Hat, the college paper, and editor-in-chief of The Gallery, the college’s literary magazine.