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D.C. Expands Eligibility for SNAP/Food Stamps
Thousands of District Residents Will Benefit from Changes
Washington, D.C. – April 9, 2010 – Thousands of struggling D.C. residents will now be eligible to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps) benefits, thanks to a District policy change to help low-income working families. The D.C. Department of Human Services is starting to implement a new policy, ushered in through the D.C. Council’s Food Stamp Expansion Act, that will eliminate the outdated asset test and will raise the income limit for eligibility for SNAP/Food Stamps, allowing District residents with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty levels to apply for benefits.
The District will join numerous other jurisdictions, including Arizona, Georgia, Maryland, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Texas, in raising the income standard above the inadequate 130 percent of the poverty line previously in effect.
This change – also known as categorical eligibility – will particularly benefit low-income working families who have minimal savings or who earn just a little too much to qualify for SNAP/Food Stamps under prior rules but still struggle to afford essential housing and child care costs. Currently, a household earning more than 130 percent of the federal poverty level (i.e., earning more than $22,884 for a family of three) is not eligible for SNAP/Food Stamps – even if their expenses for housing, child care, and other basics leave little or no money for food. In a high cost area like the District, such a change is particularly essential.
With the change, District residents with gross income up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level may be able to get SNAP/Food Stamp benefits. While people must fulfill a number of other requirements to receive SNAP/Food Stamps, this new policy will help more very needy families learn if benefits are available. Categorical eligibility also removes the cap on assets, which means that people who lose their jobs in this unstable economy do not have to spend down almost all their savings before they are considered eligible for SNAP/Food Stamps.
“By making this change, D.C. joins many other states in creating a more effective and responsive SNAP/Food Stamp program,” said Alexandra Ashbrook, director of D.C. Hunger Solutions. “It will provide more support to individuals and families, will support work and family well-being, and it will generate a large benefit to our local economy by infusing millions of dollars in federal funding for SNAP/Food Stamps.”
Thousands of households in the District have incomes between 130 percent and 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Best estimates are that this new policy translates to between 1,500 and 4,000 additional low-income families qualifying for food assistance in the first year.
For more information, visit D.C. Hunger Solutions’ Web site at www.dchunger.org.