Thanks to a new emergency program meant to address coronavirus-related financial struggles, Los Angeles County residents on public assistance will see an automatic increase on their EBT cards so that they receive the full amount for which they’re eligible.
The initiative was announced Friday at the county’s daily briefing on the pandemic. It comes as millions lose jobs nationwide and businesses remain closed.
The county has seen a 38% increase in applications for CalFresh food stamps and a 32% increase in people trying to apply for the aid program CalWORKS, according to Antonia Jiménez, director of the Department of Public Social Services.
EBT recipients countywide will receive the maximum amount of funds they are eligible for through payment installments scheduled for April 12 and May 10, Jiménez said.
Recipients will be eligible for EBT card increases if they do not already receive the maximum amount for which they are eligible. For example, Jiménez said, a single adult is able to receive $194. If they currently receive $140, they will get another $54 — and it will happen automatically.
“You don’t have to apply. You don’t have to do anything,” Jiménez said. “In L.A. County, we will be issuing $57.5 million to 366,000 households.”
While DPSS offices remain closed, the department is also easing some policies to help recipients who may be struggling.
Those who currently receive public assistance do not have to file documents such as QR 7s — quarterly reports on finances, property or household changes that affect income and eligibility. L.A. County residents who are eligible include recipients of CalWORKS, General Relief, Refugee Cash Assistance, CalFresh and the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants.
There has also been a six-month extension on reporting documents, which means the recertification packet due March for benefits is now due in September.
The county’s new program was announced a day after news broke that over 6.6 million Americans filed unemployment applications last week, doubling from another record-setting number the week before.
In California, more than 878,000 people submitted claims for unemployment last week, more than twice as many as in any other state, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Altogether, mass business closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic have led to nearly 10 million Americans reporting job losses over the last two weeks.
For a full list of EBT changes and information on applying for public assistance in L.A. County, visit the DPSS website here.