Last updated May 20 2023: The Division of Public Assistance is likely working on food stamp applications and recertifications from February onward.
Alaska food stamp recertifications, also known as eligibility reviews, were waived starting in March 2020 as a result of the passage of The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Two years later, as the administrative flexibility and emergency declarations granted in light of the pandemic faded, those reviews started again and along with them the start of a problem.
In August 2022, the first month participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) needed to submit recertification forms, the State of Alaska received over 8,000 applications. As the federally-mandated 30-day response time came and went for most of those applicants, the backlog quietly grew with no end in sight.
It wasn’t until mid-December that news outlets began to pick up on the problem, at which point wait times were averaging 90-120 days. By late January, a lawsuit had been filed against the state for its failure to meet the 30-day deadline in nearly all cases. Now February, many Alaskans are still waiting on answers from recertifications submitted as early as October, and worse, are left waiting in the dark.
The Division of Public Assistance has failed to communicate delays to applicants entirely. The State Public Assistance website published a “timeline for service” in October that was far from an accurate representation of actual timelines, emails and phone calls are met with vague replies and canned responses after extensive hold times, and the automated hotline simply shares the date an application is received with no status updates.
Official updates and news on just where in the SNAP application backlog the State is are few and far between, leaving many hungry Alaskans wondering, when will I get my food stamps benefits? If you’re among those Alaskans, this page is an effort to create a rough timeline based on what has been shared and to track new news regarding the food stamp backlog. If you’re awaiting a response or have received one, we’d love it if you could share a comment here to help other applicants get an idea of when their benefits may be approved.
Alaska Food Stamp Application and Recertification Status Updates:
- November 29, 2022: An eligibility technician who preferred to remain unnamed stated the division was working on applications from the end of August.
- December 21, 2022: The Division announced it was working on food stamp applications from September.
- January 10, 2023: Department of Health Communications Director Clinton Bennett said in an email that September applications were complete.
- January 24, 2023: Department of Health Commissioner Heidi Hedberg told the Senate Health and Resources Committee the division was working on October applications and again reiterated that September applications had all been reviewed.
- February 27th, 2023: The Division reported that all applications for October had been processed.
- May 4, 2023: While no processing update was provided, the food stamp backlog stood at 10,598 people as of April 20. The Department of Health has agreed to cut this wait list in half in the next six months in response to a law suit against the state for failure to process applications in a timely manner.
Most-recent reviewed application submitted by readers here: Marked received October 10th – Processed February 22nd (135 day wait)
Estimating Alaska Food Stamp Benefit Review Times:
Based on the few updates above, we can gather the division is likely working on applications from early to mid February as of late May, and benefit wait times are exceeding 120 days.
It took 42 days to review applications from a roughly one-month span (end of August to end of September) and 49 days to get through October, suggesting the Division will likely complete November applications sometime in early April and December/January applications in May, though the number of applications may affect these estimates. The Division has also hired on additional staff, which may help speed things along.
What can you do if you’re still waiting on your Alaska food stamp case determination after 30 days?
Alaskans with food stamp applications or recertifications pending over 30 days can contact Alaska Legal Services Corporation for assistance at 1-888-478-2572 or apply online.
Are you waiting on your Alaska food stamp recertification or application to be reviewed? Did you already receive a response? Please drop us a comment or send us an email with the date your application was marked received/reviewed.