SNAP Policy Data Sets

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides low-income families with a monthly benefit, delivered on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card that can be used to purchase food from authorized grocery stores and other food retailers. This product has two sets of data that provide information about State-level SNAP eligibility rules and administrative policies.

The SNAP Policy Database offers a central data source for information on State policy options in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The database includes information on State-level SNAP policies relating to eligibility criteria, recertification and reporting requirements, benefit issuance methods, availability of online applications, use of biometric technology (such as fingerprinting), and coordination with other low-income assistance programs. Monthly data are provided for all 50 States and the District of Columbia from January 1996 through December 2020. The information in this database can facilitate research on factors that influence SNAP participation and on SNAP's effects on a variety of outcomes, such as health and dietary intake. For more information, see SNAP Policy Database Documentation.

The SNAP Distribution Schedule Database documents the monthly distribution schedule for SNAP in all 50 States and the District of Columbia from January 1998 to December 2018. The SNAP benefit is posted to the household’s account on a single day each month, but in most States, not all participating households receive their benefit on the same day. Instead, the distribution of benefits is staggered over a week or more during the month, with only a portion of the State's caseload receiving their benefits on each distribution day. States differ in the way that they divide their caseload for staggered distribution but follow a general pattern of using the last number of the household’s case number or the first letter of the last name. Each group is then given their SNAP benefits on the same calendar day each month so that they receive benefits every 30 to 31 days, depending on the month. The current distribution schedule is posted by the USDA, Food and Nutrition Service. The information in this database can facilitate research on how the receipt of SNAP benefits influences food consumption, expenditures, and other behaviors. Please note that the SNAP Distribution Schedule has not been updated since the version posted in February 2019. For more information, see About the SNAP Distribution Schedule Database.

The SNAP Policy Database and the state-level SNAP Distribution Schedule Database (contained in the tab labelled “States” in the Excel file) can be merged using the State FIPS code in each dataset.

Data Set Last Updated Next Update
SNAP Policy Database
SNAP Policy Database 2/29/2024
SNAP Policy Database Variable Definitions and Coding Descriptions 2/29/2024
SNAP Distribution Schedule Database
SNAP Distribution Schedule Database 2/13/2019