SNAP Changes Benefit Increases

Farm Bill 2018: Guide to Proposed Changes to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Certification, Benefits, and Eligibility

Mary Zaki
University of Maryland 
Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics
University of Maryland Extension


Proposed Changes that would Increase Benefit Amount or Participation in SNAP

CURRENT LAW HOUSE BILL
Proposed Changes
SENATE BILL
Proposed Changes
Certification (7 U.S.C. §2012(f))
The certification period, a period for which households are eligible to receive benefits, cannot exceed 12 months (24 months if all adult household members are elderly or disabled). A State agency will have at least 1 contact with each certified household every 12 months.
No Proposed changes Definition of Certification Period (S. 3042, sec. 4101)
Allows a State agency to extend the certification period for elderly and disabled households with no earned income to up to 36 months.

Estimated 2019-2028 Impact: +$205 million due to eligible households staying on SNAP longer.
Earned Income Deduction (7 USC § 2014(e)(2))
Net income determines both SNAP benefit amount and eligibility for SNAP benefits.Generally, lower net income increases likelihood of eligibility and increases SNAP benefits received. A household with earned income is allowed to deduct 20% of all earned income when calculating net income. 
Earned Income Deduction (H.R. 2, sec. 4008)
The earned income deduction is increased to 22%.

Estimated 2019-2028 Impact: +$4,640 milliondue to higher benefits and enrollment of households that would have otherwise had too high of an income to be eligible for SNAP. 
No Proposed changes
Exclusions from Income (7 U.S.C. 2014(d)) Basic Allowance for Housing  (H.R. 2, sec. 4007)
Adds that military households can exclude up to $500 of Basic Allowance for Housing that they receive from any calculation of income when determining SNAP eligibility and benefits. When determining the excess shelter deduction, these households can only claim expenses in excess of that allowance when determining the household’s expenses.

Estimated 2019-2028 Impact: +$116 million due to higher benefits and enrollment of households that would have otherwise had too high of an income to be eligible for SNAP. 
No Proposed changes
Homeless Households Alternative Deduction (7 U.S.C. 2014(e)(6)(D))
A state agency may elect to allow a household in which all members are homeless individuals who do not receive free shelter throughout the month to receive a deduction of $143 per month in lieu of a excess shelter expense deduction (one of the deductions a household makes in calculating net income). 
Simplified Homeless Housing Costs  (H.R. 2, sec. 4009)
Would make it mandatory for a state agency to deduct this $143 per month alternative to the excess shelter expense deduction for homeless households who do not receive free shelter.

Estimated 2019-2028 Impact: +76 million as SNAP benefits will increase as net income will be lower using this deduction for impacted households.
No Proposed changes
Transitional Benefits  (7 U.S.C. 2020(s))
States have the option to provide SNAP benefits to households that have stopped receiving cash assistance from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF). These families can receive SNAP  for five months after the date that cash assistance was terminated.
Transitional Benefits (H.R. 2, sec. 4024)
Would make these transitional SNAP benefits mandatory across states rather than optional.

Estimated 2019-2028 Impact: +895 million for providing SNAP benefits to these households.
No Proposed changes
 Allowable financial Resources (7 U.S.C. 2014(g))
Households cannot participate in SNAP if assets exceed $2,000 or in the case of a household which consists of or includes an elderly or disabled member, if its assets exceed $3,000. Each vehicle with a fair market value at or below $4,650 is excluded from the total assets calculation. Any savings account is included in the assets calculation.
Adjustment to Asset Limitations; Updated Vehicle Allowance; Savings Excluded From Assets  (H.R. 2, sec. 4012-4014)
Household maximum allowable value of assets would be increased to $7,000 or in the case of household with elderly or disabled members, $12,000. State agencies would exclude $12,000 of the value of one vehicle per licensed driver from the assets calculation. State will exclude up to $2,000 in savings accounts from the assets calculation.

Estimated 2019-2028 Impact: +$201 million in benefits as more people will be eligible for SNAP benefits.
No Proposed changes
Additional sources: Additional sources: Congressional Budget Office. (2018). "Cost Estimate of H.R. 2, Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018"; Congressional Budget Office. (2018). "Cost Estimate of S. 3042, Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018."; U.S. Senate. (2018). "Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 Section-by-section"; U.S. House of Representatives.(2018)."Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 Section-by-section."