Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) SNAP for Eligible Children of Free/Reduced Price School Meals

Illinois Department of Human Services Logo

04/20/2020

Policy Memo

Summary

  • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 provides the Secretary of Agriculture authority to approve a State agency plan for temporary emergency standards of eligibility and levels of benefits under the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008. Children who would receive free/reduced price meals under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, if not for the school closure are eligible under this provision. 
  • Children ages 3 to 17 and ages 18 to 22 (if in high school), who have temporarily lost access to free or reduced price school meals due to the COVID-19 pandemic related school closures are eligible for Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) SNAP allotments equal to the daily reimbursement for free lunch and breakfast multiplied by the average number of school closure days in the month for each eligible child in the household. $3.50 Lunch + $2.20 breakfast = $5.70 daily cost per child.
  • All children that would receive a free or reduced price meal if school was in session, even if a district wide eligibility school, are eligible for P-EBT regardless of income or citizenship.
  • The school must be closed for at least 5 consecutive days in the month during a public health emergency designation during which time the school would otherwise be in session to qualify as an eligible month for benefits to be issued to the household.
  • The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is working in collaboration with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to notify families of this benefit. Families are not required to be receiving SNAP to qualify for P-EBT assistance or meet financial or nonfinancial eligibility requirements. 
  • Active SNAP households do not need to apply for P-EBT and do not need to be contacted. Existing case information will be used to automatically issue benefits when appropriate. 
  • Illinois will implement P-EBT benefits effective March 2020. Active SNAP households will be issued P-EBT benefits between April 20th-30th. If eligible for both months, March and April P-EBT benefits will be combined into one issuance (March for 10 days + April for 22 days). This is the average # of days missed for all schools. Continuation of benefits past April is contingent upon whether there are school closings for the required number of days each month thereafter due to COVID-19. 
  • For non-SNAP households, an application with a signature (written/electronic) is required so that a P-EBT case may be set up in the IES eligibility system and benefits can be issued. P-EBT applications submitted via ABE will be processed automatically, unless the application batches out for some reason, such as a social security number. A non-SNAP household will need to provide household information in order to participate.
  • Paper applications that are mailed to the Central Scanning Unit (CSU) or emailed to DHS.FCS.PEBT@illinois.gov will be handled by designated staff who will create an ABE account and enter the data from the application into ABE, which will register the case with a "T" number and either systematically process the application or create a task in the New Application Queue titled DSNAP with a P-EBT indicator. The paper application will then be uploaded to the PEBT case number within IES.
  • Families that want to apply have the option to:
  • Once the application is received, information will be sent to ISBE via webservice who will then respond with a Yes/No on the child's eligibility for free/reduced lunches.
  • So that these benefits can be identified separately from regular SNAP benefits, P-EBT benefits will be issued as a "DSNAP" issuance. A 'disaster' will be created in the DSNAP module for "COVID-19 P-EBT" to process P-EBT applications. A path has been created in the "DSNAP" module to allow workers to process non-SNAP P-EBT applications. 
  • A simplified paper application, Illinois Application for Pandemic Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for Children Receiving Free or Reduced School Lunches (Form 5235) is created for non-SNAP applicants to apply for P-EBT or they can apply through the ABE Online Portal.
  • A new Notice of Decision on Your Pandemic EBT (P-PET) SNAP Application (Form xxxx) is created for non-SNAP households who apply for P-EBT benefits and children do not qualify because of no match with ISBE or they are already receiving P-EBT benefits. This notice will only be sent when a member is denied. An approval notice does not need to be sent when all members are eligible.
  • It has been decided that Illinois schools will stay closed for the remainder of the school year. May and June P-EBT benefits will be calculated based on the number of school closure days for each month. A SNAP household that applies for free or reduced price meals in May become eligible for P-EBT in May. The household does not qualify for P-EBT for any month prior to May. More information will be provided on these benefits shortly.

Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) SNAP Allotments

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 provides the Secretary of Agriculture authority to approve a State agency's plan for temporary emergency standards of eligibility and levels of benefits under the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008. Children who would receive the free or reduced price meals under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, if not for the school closure are eligible under this provision.

P-EBT Eligibility

  • Children ages 3 to 17 and ages 18 to 22 (if in high school), who have temporarily lost access to free or reduced price school meals due to the COVID-19 pandemic related school closures are eligible for Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) SNAP allotments equal to the (daily meal costs) x (number of school days in the month) $3.50 lunch + $2.20 breakfast = $5.70 daily meal cost per child.
  • All children that would receive a free or reduced price meal if school was in session, even if a district wide eligibility school, are eligible for P-EBT regardless of income or citizenship.
  • To qualify as an eligible month for benefits to be issued to the household, the school must be closed for at least 5 consecutive days in the month during a public health emergency designation during which time the school would otherwise be in session.
  • Illinois will implement P-EBT benefits effective March 2020. The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is working in collaboration with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to notify families of this benefit. Families are not required to be receiving SNAP to qualify for P-EBT assistance or meet SNAP financial or nonfinancial eligibility requirements. ISBE is reaching out to School Districts to have them update indicators for students that are eligible for free or reduced price lunch to ensure there is accurate data to match upon.

Active SNAP Households

  • Active SNAP households do not need to apply for P-EBT benefits and do not need to be contacted about the benefit. Existing case information will be used to automatically issue benefits when appropriate. Illinois will systematically identify all SNAP households that contain children attending school. The number of children will be multiplied by the monthly allotment to create the P-EBT benefit for the household. The P-EBT benefits will be coded as a "Supplemental DSNAP Issuance" in the IES eligibility system. Current SNAP households will have their benefits loaded on their current EBT LINK account cards.
  • Active SNAP households, if eligible for both months, will have March and April benefits combined into one issuance. (March for 10 days + April for 22 days). This is the average # of days missed for all schools. These benefits are considered "Supplements" to any household that received SNAP benefits for the P-EBT application month. P-EBT benefits will be issued between April 20th-30th.
  • It has been decided that Illinois schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year. May and June P-EBT benefits will be calculated based on the number of school closure days in each month. More information will be provided on these benefits shortly.

Newly Approved Applications

For new SNAP applications, a weekly systematic process is in place to review applications that are approved in the last week.  P-EBT benefits will be created for any eligible household (contains child in school that has not already received a P-EBT benefit).

P-EBT Application Process Non-SNAP Households

  • For non-SNAP households, an application is required so that a P-EBT case may be set up in the IES eligibility system and benefits can be issued. Illinois will utilize the Disaster SNAP (DSNAP) Module already in the IES eligibility system to create P-EBT households.
  • This will allow for a case and EBT account creation through the system and create an "Initial DSNAP Issuance" for any household that is found eligible for P-EBT and has not already received the benefit. Benefits are "initial" DSNAP issuances to anyone only receiving P-EBT (no SNAP)
  • P-EBT applications submitted via ABE will be processed automatically, unless the application batches out for some reason, such as a social security number.
  • Paper applications that are mailed to the Central Scanning Unit (CSU) or emailed to DHS.FCS.PEBT@illinois.gov will be handled by designated staff who will create an ABE account and enter the data from the application into ABE, which will register the case with a "T" number and either systematically process the application or create a task in the New Application Queue titled DSNAP with a P-EBT indicator. The paper application will then be uploaded to the PEBT case number within IES. Additional information will be provided as to when this process will begin.
  • A non-SNAP household will need to provide household information in order to participate:
    • Name and signature of the head of household (which may be electronic).
    • Names and number of eligible children in the household.
    • Address of household on record with the school district.
    • Mailing address if different than address on record with the school district.
  • Illinois has developed a simplified application, Illinois Application for Pandemic Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for Children Receiving Free or Reduced School Lunches (Form 5235), for P-EBT benefits for Non-SNAP households. Applications will be available in paper form as well as through the ABE Online Application portal. On the ABE Online Portal, a new option is listed to apply for only the P-EBT Benefits. The application is one page and collects the same data as the paper application.
  • Families that want to apply for P-EBT benefits have the option to:
  • When processing the application through the new P-EBT flow, a clearance will be ran against ISBE via webservice, which will then respond with a (Yes), there is a record of the child receiving a free or reduced lunches or (No), no record was found. If there is not a match, the application will be denied and a notice will be sent to the applicant.
  • A SNAP household that applies for free or reduced price meals in May becomes eligible for P-EBT in May. The household does not qualify for P-EBT for any month prior to May.
  • Additional information will be provided on the application deadline.

Benefit Delivery, Availability and Expungement

  • All P-EBT benefits will be delivered on an EBT card. P-EBT only recipients will receive a different style EBT card. This EBT card will be white and will function exactly the same as the regular LINK EBT card, just a different design. The EBT contractor will send the LINK Brochure (Form 9203) along with the LINK card to eligible new households. The brochure provides the customer with the information needed to manage their account, redeem benefits at the store, and includes information about eligible items. Benefits will be staggered to allow retailers to prepare for the demand.  All "Supplemental" issuances will have a normal 365 day expungement cycle. "Initial" issuances will be limited to 90 days expungement.
  • New Applications will follow the normal daily issuance schedule. A benefit becomes available to the customer the day following the next workday after processing. For Example, an application approved on Thursday, will have benefits available on Saturday. An Application approved on Friday, will have benefits available on Tuesday of the following week.
  • All P-EBT issuances will have a normal 365 day expungement cycle.

[signed copy on file]

Grace B. Hou

Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services

Forms referenced:

Form 5235