Recent changes to federal programs that assist families

By Niya K. Kelly, Director of State Legislative Policy, Equity and Transformation

As we all continue to navigate the pandemic and its ramifications, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless would like to provide some information about updates to federal benefits programs that assist families and individuals in our community.  

Child Tax Credit: 

In Spring 2021, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law. It included language expanding the Child Tax Credit (CTC). In past years, families with children received the CTC after filing their federal income taxes and would receive the credit in one lump once a year. Under this policy shift, families will receive their CTC monthly. Families are receiving up to $300 per month per child under 6, and up to $250 per month per child ages 6 to 17. The credit is meant to offset the cost associated with childcare and other necessities, including food, clothing, transportation and housing. Eligible families include joint filers making up to $150,000, single head of households making up to $112,500, and other single filers making up to $75,000 qualify for the full advanced monthly payment of the Child Tax Credit.  

Your household qualifies for the Child Tax Credit if all of the following apply to your child or dependent:[efn_note]Simplified Tax Filing to Claim Your Child Tax Credit. [/efn_note] 

  • They are your son, daughter, grandchild, stepchild or adopted child; younger sibling, stepsibling, half-sibling, or their descendent; or a foster child placed with you by a government agency. 
  • They are under 17 at the end of 2020. 
  • They have a valid Social Security Number. 
  • They lived with you for more than half of 2021. 
  • They did not provide over half of their own support for 2021.

This policy change is important for families living in poverty. Receiving the credit only at tax time left many families in the lurch trying to figure out how to manage for the rest of the year. Families started receiving their monthly credit in July 2021 and will continue through to December 2021. In order to receive the remainder of the credit, families will need to file their taxes in 2022. If you have any questions or would like to learn more on how to apply visit the following link.  

SNAP Benefit Adjustment

Each year the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) makes annual Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA) to the income thresholds and deductions. This change comes alongside an update to the Thrifty Food Plan, which will increase maximum benefit amounts to SNAP families. 

At the same time, the temporary 15 percent increase that families and individuals saw related to the pandemic will end on September 30.

As a result, SNAP recipients will see a modest net increase to their payment, because much of the annual adjustment and Thrifty Food Plan increases will be balanced out by the decrease caused by the conclusion of pandemic related SNAP. 

The benefit increase will range from $12 to $16 per person per month beginning October 1. The exact amount for individual households may differ. States will automatically make these changes for all SNAP households. SNAP recipients do not need to take any action for these changes to take effect.