Changes to SNAP benefits announced
Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced two proposed changes, and one final rule change, to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which serves more than 400,000 Nevadans.
The final rule, published Dec. 5, addresses changes to SNAP recipients classified as Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependents (ABAWD).
The new rule limits states’ ability to override work requirements for SNAP recipients. The order affects adults who are less than 50 years old who do not have disabilities or dependents.
The current rules require the group to work at least 20 hours a week for more than three months during a three-year period, but states can waive the rule if work is not available. The new rule will limit the state’s ability to do that unless unemployment reaches a specific rate in that area.
The State of Nevada was informed it has received a three-month waiver for this rule which applies to all Nevada counties, with the exception of Washoe.
The waiver of the time limit will be in effect from Jan. 1, through March 30, 2020. As mandated by Nevada law, the state will continue to apply for waivers but, if future waivers are denied, then more than 32,000 individuals will be transitioned off SNAP when they exhaust their three months of benefits.
Additionally, there are two proposed rules; Broad-Based Categorically Eligibility which addresses the types of government benefits that automatically qualify families for SNAP and Standard Utility Allowance regarding the guideline states use to calculate standard utility allowances.
The proposed rule will eliminate the Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) policy and impose a financial asset test on SNAP applicants that were approved under BBCE. The Division of Welfare and Supportive Services estimates about 46,000 SNAP recipients will no longer be eligible, and 7,415 children who are on National School Lunch Program will be affected by the proposed rule.
The second proposed rule for the Standard Utility Allowance (SUA) may show an increase of more than 4% to recipients, according to USDA analysis. Currently, Nevada’s average SNAP benefit per household is $220.06. If the proposed rule on SUA values is approved as written, the average benefit per household in Nevada will increase by $9.44, per month.
Currently 117,968 out of 221,272 SNAP households qualify and receive the Standard Utility Allowance.