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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Ohio Extends SNAP, Medicaid Benefits For Six Months Due To Coronavirus

Food stamp recipients in Ohio won’t need to worry about renewals for their benefits — at least not for the next few months.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week issued a waiver to the state allowing an extension for select benefit recertifications and renewals.

Any Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients whose benefits are set to expire in March, April or May of 2020 won’t need to seek recertification until six months later.

Medicaid renewals are also suspended for 180 days. Recipients won’t lose coverage during that time.

Cuyahoga County  suspended work requirement assessments last week due to the pandemic's impact on recipients.

The recertification process for those benefits is sometimes as simple as a phone call, said County Executive Armond Budish, but it can occasionally require more work to complete.

“The recertification process can be somewhat complicated,” Budish said. “You may need to get additional documents which may not be available in this time of crisis.”

Without those challenges, Budish said, the waiver will allow thousands of recipients to keep their benefits during the crisis. The county has resources for people who have lost work as a result of COVID-19, he said, but they need to be able to process the applications for those benefits to be effective.

“We want people to apply, but we want them to be able to get the benefits,” Budish said. “If we have to focus on recertifications, there would be delays that could be very costly to people.”

The county has seen an influx of new applications for public benefits during the pandemic, Budish said, particularly SNAP. The waiver allows the county to focus on those new applications, said Interim County Health and Human Services Director David Merriman.

“Wait times are longer than we would like,” Merriman said. “We’re doing everything we can to shorten the process.”

The extension also applies to Ohio Works First recipients.

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