Georgia residents who qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will receive their monthly payments according to the usual schedule in December, with the first payments slated for Dec. 5. The wild card is whether state SNAP administrators can iron out problems that have led to delays in recent weeks.
Food Stamps by Household: How Much 2023 COLA Boosted Monthly Benefits
Explore: Georgia Grocery Chain Nam Dae Mun Farmers Market Now Accepts SNAP
Some SNAP recipients in Georgia and elsewhere have not received their benefits in time due to an increase in renewals, as well as staff shortages at the Georgia Division of Family & Children Services (DFCS), which administers the program. Many Georgians looking for answers about their benefits wound up in an automated voice system, WMAZ reported.
"Due to inflation and workforce shortages, we are working through increased volume for SNAP applications and renewals," the DFCS said in an email statement. "We continue to explore ways to secure more flexibility from the federal government to process cases more quickly and efficiently."
While all that gets ironed out, most Georgia SNAP recipients can expect to get their payments according to the usual schedule in December.
SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is a federal program that provides food-purchasing assistance to low-income households. Although it is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the program is administered at the state level. In Georgia, the DFCS deposits monthly SNAP benefits to low-income households through the Georgia Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card.
Georgia SNAP EBT cards can be used at most grocery stores and certain other retail locations. You can use SNAP benefits to purchase the following food items:
Fruits and vegetables
Meat, poultry and fish
Breads and cereals
Snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages
Seeds and plants, which produce food for the household to eat.
Take Our Poll: How Has Inflation Impacted Your Holiday Shopping Plans?
Among the items you can't buy with SNAP benefits are alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, vitamins, medicines, supplements, live animals, pet foods, cleaning supplies, paper products and cosmetics. In Georgia, you also can't use your EBT card to buy hot meals prepared at the point of sale because it is not among the states that participate in SNAP's Restaurant Meals Program.
How To Score EBT Discounts
SNAP benefits in Georgia and elsewhere also come with perks that go beyond purchasing food - including discounts on certain products and services. Here's a quick look at money-saving opportunities your EBT card provides:
Amazon Prime discount: Recipients of SNAP and SNAP EBT Cash benefits (or Medicaid benefits) can qualify to save 50% off their Prime memberships. To see if you qualify, visit amazon.com/prime/qualify.
Museum discounts: Those receiving SNAP benefits can get free or reduced admission to more than 850 museum and arts groups throughout the U.S., including through the Museums for All program. According to the iGeorgia Food Stamps website, museums that offer discounts or free admission to Georgia EBT cardholders include the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens, the Atlanta Contemporary Museum of Art, the Georgia State Railroad Museum in Savannah and the Thomasville History Center.
Farmers' markets: You can also use your SNAP EBT card at participating farmers' markets to purchase fresh produce. The USDA's Food Nutrition Service provides a monthly list of the names and locations of markets across the country that are currently authorized to accept SNAP benefits.
Lifeline Program: If you are a SNAP recipient and your income is below a certain level, you might qualify for free or low-cost landline or cell phone service through the Federal Lifeline Program. You might also get discounted internet service. Consult with your provider to see if it offers the program.
If you are 60 years or older, living on a permanent fixed income, meet certain income requirements and live where other household members are not working, you might qualify for Senior SNAP, which is a simplified application process.
In Georgia, benefits are sent out by the 23rd of each month. Here is Georgia's December 2022 SNAP payment schedule:
All SNAP recipients in Georgia are required to complete a periodic review to continue their eligibility. A renewal form and any required verification can be submitted in the Georgia Gateway portal or by using Form 508.
Food Stamps Study: SNAP Benefits Slow Memory Decline in Senior Recipients
Social Security: Could COLA Increase Reduce Your Food Stamps Benefits?
Customers who have lost food purchased with SNAP benefits due to weather disasters - or have experienced a food loss due to power outages of four hours or more - can receive replacement benefits within 10 days after reporting the loss. You must report any losses to your local DFCS office and complete an affidavit.
How Long $1 Million in Retirement Will Last in Every State
GOBankingRates' Best Credit Cards for 2023
If Your Credit Score is Under 740, Make These 4 Moves Now
Best Business Credit Cards
This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Food Stamps Schedule: Georgia Benefits for December and Where To Find SNAP EBT Discounts