USDA wants to tighten lax food stamp eligibility rules
by Kyle Ziemnick
Posted 7/24/19, 11:18 am
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday announced a proposal to close a loophole allowing people who receive minimal welfare benefits to qualify automatically for food stamps. The new policy says that the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) has provided assistance to many people who don’t need it.
“For too long, this loophole has been used to effectively bypass important eligibility guidelines,” Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “That is why we are changing the rules, preventing abuse of a critical safety net system, so those who need food assistance the most are the only ones who receive it.” The change could result in a net savings of about $9.4 billion over five years.
The USDA estimated that 3.1 million people in 1.7 million households would lose food stamp benefits after the change. About 40 million people participated in SNAP in 2018, according to USDA. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he would “fight to make sure these cuts never become a reality.”
President Donald Trump’s administration cited the example of a Minnesota millionaire who successfully enrolled in SNAP to prove the program was wasting taxpayer dollars. The USDA noted that even receiving a brochure could count as a welfare benefit making someone eligible for SNAP. The new policy requires households to receive at least $50 in benefits for a minimum of six months to qualify automatically for the program, but they still can go through the traditional eligibility review process if they don’t automatically qualify by receiving other welfare benefits.
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