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Comment period open for USDA draft proposal to modify SNAP eligibility

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USDA issued a draft rule to modify SNAP’s broad-based categorical eligibility, a process that allows certain TANF recipients to receive SNAP benefits Beginning July 31, USDA will accept public comments for 60 days before releasing a final rule; counties may submit comments outlining the local perspective

On July 24, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a proposed rule that would implement stricter eligibility requirements for individuals and families seeking Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. If enacted, the proposal would narrow broad-based categorical eligibility for SNAP, a process that aims to streamline the welfare application process by allowing certain individuals receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program benefits to qualify for SNAP.

Under SNAP’s current broad-based categorical eligibility rules, states are not required to review a person’s total assets and can consider program applicants with incomes above 130 percent of the federal poverty level. Current regulations allow recipients of all non-cash, in-kind and TANF services to be considered for SNAP eligibility. The proposed rule would alter these eligibility rules to apply only to individuals receiving TANF benefits for subsidized employment, work supports or childcare benefits.

In general, NACo supports streamlining of federal programs to reduce mandates and administrative burdens on local governments. This includes supporting processes such as broad-based categorical eligibility, which allows counties to easily consider applicants for federal assistance programs we administered. In doing so, counties believe the least restrictive qualifications for program approval should be followed to ensure streamlining eases burdens on both administrators and individuals. In this case, the proposed changes could have the opposite effect, requiring greater county staff to meet new administrative burdens while failing to provide new funding to meet these mandates.

The public comment period on the rule will be open through September 23, 2019.  After USDA considers these comments, the agency will issue a final rule. Counties are encouraged to share their local perspective on how this proposal could impact their jurisdiction and residents with NACo staff as well as USDA.

Please reach out to NACo Associate Legislative Director Eryn Hurley at ehurley@naco.org with any questions on the public comment period or process.

For more resources on SNAP and the proposed rule, please see the following links:

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