Changes to SNAP Benefits in 2023

Monday, April 24th, 2023

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides monthly funds that help low-income individuals and families put food on the table. Every dollar spent through the SNAP program brings $1.50 to the local economy — so when individual families access this important resource, it introduces additional money into the community. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government made several changes to SNAP, including an extra monthly benefit amount for most recipients to help with food costs. These COVID-related provisions have expired, and more changes are coming in the next few months that could affect your SNAP benefits. This article will discuss these changes and how they can affect individuals’ benefits.

Decrease in SNAP Benefits. 

The extra monthly benefit that individuals received during the federal health emergency ended in February 2023. As a result, many families have seen a decrease in their SNAP benefits since March 2023. The change has especially affected older individuals and individuals with disabilities. Some SNAP recipients have seen their benefits decrease from as much as $281 to only $23 a month.

Our number one recommendation when you see a decrease in SNAP benefits is to check your deductions and make sure they are correct. A deduction is an expense that SNAP considers when calculating your income — which means it can help increase the SNAP benefit amount. Virginia Poverty Law Center (VPLC) also has a SNAP calculator that can help you determine whether you are getting the correct benefit amount.* You can find the SNAP calculator by going to

There are a handful of deductions available to individuals. The three most common deductions that could help increase your benefit amount are medical, shelter expense, and dependent care deductions. To learn more about these deductions, please see our SNAP checklist.

College Students.

Prior to the federal health emergency, students who were enrolled at least half time in an institution of higher learning had to meet restrictive requirements to be eligible for SNAP benefits. These requirements were relaxed during the pandemic, so more students became eligible. For example, one exemption before 2020 allowed college students to receive SNAP if they participated in a state or federal work study program during the school year. Under the pandemic guidelines, that individual only had to be eligible to participate in a state or federal work study program to qualify. There was also an exemption during the public health emergency for students with $0 expected family contribution.

Students who applied or renewed their SNAP benefits before June 9 will remain eligible under these COVID protections until their next renewal date. Students who apply after June 9 must have their eligibility determined based on the pre-pandemic rules. You can find more about those exemptions here.

SNAP Time Limits.

Individuals between the ages of 18 and 49 (and who do not have dependents under the age of 18) must participate in a work activity or meet an exemption to qualify for SNAP. An individual who is not participating in a work activity and does not meet an exemption can typically only be eligible for SNAP benefits for 3 months out of a 36-month period. This requirement was waived during the federal health emergency but was reinstated effective July 1, 2023. Every county in Virginia is currently exempt from the work activity requirement, but that could change when the protections expire. Individuals who are pregnant, are physically or mentally unfit to work, or reside in an exempt locality are also exempt from this requirement. You can find the full list of exemptions here.

The debt ceiling negotiations increased the age limit for individuals who must participate in a work activity to 54. However, these changes will happen gradually. As of September 1, 2023, individuals who are 50 must meet the work requirement or only be allowed to participate in SNAP for 3 months of a 36-month period. As of October 1, the age limit increases to 52. On October 1, 2024, the final implementation is instated and individuals up to the age of 54 must participate in a work requirement to receive benefits.  

Individuals who are pregnant, are physically or mentally unfit to work, or reside in an exempt locality are also exempt from this requirement. Additionally, the debt ceiling negotiations added additional exemptions for individuals who are homeless, are 24 or younger and have aged out of foster care, or are veterans. You can find the full list of exemptions here. 

If an individual is not exempt, they must participate in a work activity. The individual can meet this requirement in several different ways, such as:

  1. Work for wages or for goods or services at least 20 hours a week;
  2. Participate and comply with employment services, other than work searches, operated by the Department of Social Services for at least 20 hours a week or equivalent;
  3. Participate or comply with a non-Department of Social Services work requirement of at least 20 hours a week;
  4. Serve in an unpaid, volunteer capacity at a public or private agency for at least 20 hours a week; or
  5. A combination of these activities.

If you have questions or concerns about these requirements, please feel free to contact our SNAP hotline at 866-753-SNAP. We are not affiliated with the Department of Social Services or any government entity but are a nonprofit that is available to help answer your questions regarding SNAP benefits.

*All estimates and data on SNAP calculator are for educational purposes only and provide a basic estimate. The only way to find out your true eligibility and benefit amount is to apply.

Updated July 20, 2023.

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