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USDA Proposes New Eligibility Guidelines for SNAP Assistance

On July 23rd, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a proposed rule that would change the eligibility criteria for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Currently, if a household is eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), it is also eligible to receive SNAP benefits. States set TANF eligibility criteria, which means that the criteria may exceed the federal eligibility criteria for SNAP. The proposed rule would end this categorical eligibility based on TANF and would require certain households eligible for TANF to meet federal criteria, including income levels, to be eligible for SNAP.

This is of particular concern for low-income older adults. Of the 21 million households that receive SNAP benefits, more than 4.6 million (1 in 5) include an adult aged 60 or older. The current proposal would make ineligible 9 percent of all households receiving SNAP and more than 13 percent of households containing older adults.

After a review of the proposed rule, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) agency concluded, and advised the USDA, that the rule may have a “civil rights impact” if the proposed action “is implemented because more elderly individuals may not otherwise meet the SNAP eligibility requirements.”

LeadingAge and LeadingAge NY are continuing to review the proposed rule. Comments are expected to be due on or around Sept. 24, 2019. LeadingAge plans to submit comments to the USDA focused on how these proposed changes would harm households containing older adults. Please send any comments that you have to me and Brendan Flinn at LeadingAge.

Contact: Sara Neitzel, sneitzel@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8835