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 SENATE BILL
  Proposed Changes Proposed Changes
Certification (7 U.S.C. ¤2012(f))   Definition of Certification Period (S. 3042, sec. 4101)
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 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)) Earned Income Deduction (H.R. 2, sec. 4008)  
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.  The earned income deduction is increased to 22%. No Proposed changes
Estimated 2019-2028 Impact: +$4,640 million due to higher benefits and enrollment of households that would have otherwise had too high of an income to be eligible for SNAP. 
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 householdŐs expenses. No Proposed changes
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. 
Homeless Households Alternative Deduction (7 U.S.C. 2014(e)(6)(D)) Simplified Homeless Housing Costs  (H.R. 2, sec. 4009)  
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).  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.
No Proposed changes
Estimated 2019-2028 Impact: +76 million as SNAP benefits will increase as net income will be lower using this deduction for impacted households.
Transitional Benefits  (7 U.S.C. 2020(s)) Transitional Benefits (H.R. 2, sec. 4024)  
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. Would make these transitional SNAP benefits mandatory across states rather than optional. No Proposed changes
Estimated 2019-2028 Impact: +895 million for providing SNAP benefits to these households.
 Allowable financial Resources (7 U.S.C. 2014(g)) Adjustment to Asset Limitations; Updated Vehicle Allowance; Savings Excluded From Assets  (H.R. 2, sec. 4012-4014)  
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. 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. No Proposed changes
Estimated 2019-2028 Impact: +$201 million in benefits as more people will be eligible for SNAP benefits.  
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."