Over the summer, the Trump administration proposed a rule change that would end “broad based categorical eligibility”. Categorical eligibility allows each state to opt out of federal rules when enrolling people in SNAP and other assistance programs. For example, under BBCE, states can choose to allow income above the federal limit. This has been important in areas where cost of living is higher. States can also opt out of the rule that disqualifies people for having assets or a savings account (federal rule limits $2,250, or $3,500 for senior citizens). Again, states may choose to ignore this because of cost of living or just common sense circumstances. Like if someone owns a jet ski but it’s the middle of winter and it’s not exactly prime time to sell a jet ski, the case worker probably is not going to count that as an asset. Or more practically, the federal asset rule also applies to vehicles, as in the ones people use to get to work, school, and doctor appointments. It’s common sense to opt out of this rule especially in rural areas or places public transportation is sparse.
BBCE also enables states to enroll people in SNAP (or other safety net programs) automatically if they’ve applied for other benefits which eliminates a lot of time & labor fr both recipient and workers. If the categorical eligibility rule is eliminated, some people will automatically be dropped from receiving SNAP if they were receiving it after applying for another program.
Overall, this change is expected to impact 3.1 million people currently receiving SNAP, including some children being kicked off the free school lunch programs.
Public comments are still open HERE for the next 10 days (closed on 9/23/19) . I don’t know how much faith I have that public comments will be really listened to enough to change this policy but it can’t hurt. Always get after your reps on these issues,too.
Since Trump has been in office, it’s estimated that 6 million people have been dropped from SNAP. This isn’t a reflection of a healthy economy that’s ensuring folks have enough on their own to get by. It’s a direct result of policy shifts already instated such as stricter work requirements that prevent underemployed and under earning, unemployed, and even disabled people to qualify.