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VERIFY: Claim that anyone, regardless of income, can get food stamps in Maryland is false

A doctored flyer confused some to believe that income is no longer a factor when applying for food stamps in Maryland. That is incorrect.

WASHINGTON — QUESTION:

Is everyone in the state of Maryland eligible for SNAP benefits, regardless of income?

ANSWER:

No. Those seeking SNAP benefits will still be asked about their household income, to make sure they qualify. 

Maryland's Department of Human Services, which manages food stamps for the state, announced that due to the global pandemic, in April and May SNAP recipients will be eligible for the maximum benefit available for that household size. 

DHS estimates more than 319,000 Maryland households will receive additional benefits in April and May.

SOURCES:

Michael J. Wilson – Director of Maryland Hunger Solutions

Maryland Hunger Solutions – "SNAP Assistance"

Katherine Morris – Communications director for Maryland Department of Human Services 

Maryland Department of Human Services – "Maryland Department of Human Services to Provide Over $66 Million in Additional SNAP Benefits to More Than 319,000 Maryland Households in Response to COVID-19"

United States Department of Agriculture – "SNAP Emergency Allotments to Current SNAP Households"

Michelle Salomon Madaio – Senior attorney at Homeless Persons Representation Project, Inc.

Antonia Fasanelli – Executive director of Homeless Persons Representation Project, Inc.

PROCESS:

Three viewers sent us posts going around on Facebook claiming to share new information about those receiving food assistance.

The posts say that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, SNAP recipients in Maryland can get maximum benefits in April and May "regardless of income."

That led viewers to ask whether that means anyone who lives in Maryland and applies for benefits, regardless of how much they make, qualifies for SNAP.

Apply for SNAP Benefits online to see if your eligible regardless of income https://mydhrbenefits.dhr.state.md.us
In case anyone needs this. SNAP benefits are available to anyone in the state of Maryland regardless of income.

Our Verify researchers spoke with the Maryland Department of Human Services, which manages the state's program, and Michael J. Wilson, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions.  

"I want to be very clear about that: the answer is no," Wilson said. "I hate to speculate on how rumors start, but this rumor's been circulating for a while, we've been doing our best to tamp it down."

Wilson’s team works to end food insecurity in Maryland, and make sure that residents who are eligible know about federal and state nutrition programs.

He says despite what people online say, there are still limits on how much money you can make to qualify for food stamps.

The change in April and May has to do with the size of the benefits.

The USDA approved Maryland Department of Human Services' request to issue emergency allotments to current recipients for April and May only.

Basically, anyone who qualifies is automatically eligible for the top amount depending on the number of people in their household.

Credit: Maryland Department of Human Services
A maximum allotment chart for SNAP recipients for the months of April and May 2020

"What that means is people can get the maximum benefit. It puts more dollars in people's pockets at a really critical time," Wilson said.

A spokesperson for Maryland Department of Human Services also confirmed there is still an income eligibility requirement.

They're also working to set the record straight.

"Our Department also quickly posted information online to help tackle and debunk the inaccuracies that were being communicated by sources outside of our agency," Katherine Morris, a spokesperson for DHS said.

Many of the online posts showed a flyer created by Homeless Persons Representation Project Inc.

A spokesperson for the group says it was created with some of their clients in mind who usually only qualify for a small amount of food stamps. With the new rules they could now get a lot more.

The confusion came in when some people doctored the flyer and started sharing it with the misinformation that “everyone” now qualifies.

Credit: Homeless Persons Representation Project Inc.
A screenshot of a doctored flyer provided to WUSA9 by a spokesperson for the Homeless Persons Representation Project Inc.
Credit: Homeless Persons Representation Project, Inc.
A screenshot of the flyer with a word bubble below that reads "food stamps are available for everyone in the state of Maryland for April and May regardless of income." The screenshot was provided by a spokesperson for the Homeless Persons Representation Project Inc.

So we can Verify, these posts claiming anyone, regardless of income can get food stamps in Maryland right now are false.

Maryland's Department of Human Services says new SNAP applications were up 71% from February to March.

For more information on how to sign up for SNAP in Maryland and to check if you are eligible for food assistance, go to the DHS's website

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