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Families who have received an extra SNAP payment in May on their ETB card

Analysis of Tennessee's Early Benefit Distribution: Insights and Precautionary Measures for Recipients of SNAP Assistance

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The Tennessee Department of Human Resources is currently addressing an unexpected issue that has resulted in some recipients of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and food assistance benefits finding extra funds on their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards.

More than 300,000 families in Tennessee received their May payments earlier than expected and will not receive another until June.

Local 3 News recently interviewed a woman who discovered the discrepancy while checking her EBT card balance. She expressed concern that many recipients might mistakenly believe the surplus funds are additional benefits, potentially leading to unwarranted spending.

Melissa Walker shared her experience, noting the irregularity in her EBT balance when she checked on Monday, a routine before her grocery runs.

Traditionally receiving her benefits on the 9th of each month, Walker was surprised to find her April benefits deposited early and in duplicate.

“This was over $300, and I was like, something is not okay here,” Walker remarked.

Upon further investigation, she found that a glitch in the system had caused the premature distribution of benefits by the state, affecting both SNAP and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs.

The Tennessee Department of Human Resources statement

The Tennessee Department of Human Resources issued a statement addressing the issue:

“On April 20, 2024, May benefits were made available to some SNAP and TANF customers earlier than their scheduled distribution date. Today, we will be notifying affected customers via text message and email so they can plan accordingly. Customers who are unsure if they received their May benefits early can check their EBT card balance by calling 888-997-9444 or by reviewing their case on the One DHS Customer Portal. Additionally, customers can find resources for meal planning, shopping, and budgeting here.”

Walker expressed concern that many recipients might view the surplus as a bonus or a result of school closures and prematurely exhaust the funds.

Jeannine Carpenter from the Chattanooga Area Food Bank echoed Walker’s concerns, predicting an increase in demand due to the situation.

“The estimated number of Tennessee families impacted with early payments is upwards of 300,000 families,” Carpenter stated, highlighting that most families had received their May payments prematurely, leaving them financially stretched until June.

“We’re talking really about families being impacted at the end of May,” Carpenter explained. “When we would be utilizing these SNAP benefits to make sure we can keep getting food throughout the month, they are already going to be gone.”

In response, Carpenter emphasized collaborative efforts with other food banks across the state to ensure that no family goes hungry.

“It will be very shocking for some folks to realize they’re out of money if they didn’t know they got it a couple of weeks early,” Carpenter warned.

Where to contact to verify your SNAP status

Affected individuals can verify their status by calling 888-997-9444 or accessing the online portal provided by the Tennessee Department of Human Resources.

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