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 Decrease Benefit Amount or Participation in SNAP
     
CURRENT LAW HOUSE BILL SENATE BILL
  Proposed Changes Proposed Changes
Categorical Eligibility (7 USC 2014(a) and 7 USC 2014(j)) Update to Categorical Eligibility (H.R. 2, sec. 4006)  
States have the option to grant SNAP eligibility to households in which every member within that household receives benefits (cash or otherwise) from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grants, Supplemental Security Income cash assistance (SSI), or state General Assistance (GA). Hence, this type of eligibility does not directly consider the income and asset holdings levels of households.  States will not be able to grant Categorical Eligibility for SNAP if TANF benefits received by household members are neither cash assistance nor ongoing substantial services such as transportation, childcare or counseling and if household (gross) income is more than 130% (200% for elderly or disabled) of the poverty line.  No Proposed changes
Estimated 2019-2028 Impact: −$5,035 million from households losing SNAP eligibility. CBO comments that the loss of SNAP eligibility will have an added impact on children who will lose access to free school lunch (as the National School Lunch Program also implements categorical eligibility). 
Standard Utility Allowance (7 USC 2014(e)(6) and 7 USC 2014(k)(4)) Availability of Standard Utility Allowances based on receipt of energy assistance. (H.R. 2, sec. 4010)  
When calculating total shelter costs of households (that get deducted from gross income when calculating net income), State agencies can use a "standard utility allowance"(SUA) in lieu of actual utility expenses. A households generally qualifies for SUA if they pay for heating or cooling or if they receive more than $20 in assistance through the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).   Households will not automatically qualify for SUA for receiving  LIHEAP assistance unless the household receives more than $20 and includes an elderly member.  No Proposed changes
Estimated 2019-2028 Impact: −$5,250 million due to reduction in benefits as net income would be higher for those who are unable to apply SUA. CBO estimates 560,000 households would have their SNAP benefits reduced by an average of $84 per month.
Deduction for Child Support Payments and cooperation with child support agencies (7 USC 2014(e)(4) and 7 USC 2015(l) and 7 USC 2015(m)) Child support; cooperation with child support agencies (H.R. 2, sec. 4011)  
States have the option to deduct income used for child support payments in the net income calculation. Also states have the option, but are not obligated, to make it mandatory for custodial and non-custodial parents of a child under the age of 18 in a single parent household to cooperate with child support agencies (to determine paternity and enforce support payments) to be eligible to receive SNAP benefits. States would no longer be able to deduct child support payments from income in the net income calculation. States must make it mandatory that custodial and non-custodial parents of a child under the age of 18 in a single parent household to cooperate with child support agencies to be eligible to receive SNAP benefits. No Proposed changes
Estimated 2019-2028 Impact: −$4,000 million in benefits, +$7,525 million in administrative costs. Benefits decrease as household net income will increase for households that begin to receive child support. Administrative costs increase to operate the child support program.
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."