USDA Seeks to Close Loophole Allowing 3.1 Million Additional SNAP Users

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 11: Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue testifies at a Senate hearing on April 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. The hearing focused on the 2020 funding request and budget justification for the Agriculture Department. (Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)
Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a proposal Tuesday that would close a “loophole” allowing 3.1 million people who already receive benefits from a non-cash welfare program to receive food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday that the draft rule on the Federal Register would close a loophole that would allow people in 43 U.S. states to automatically receive food stamp benefits through SNAP if they receive benefits through a program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

“For too long, this loophole has been used to effectively bypass important eligibility guidelines. Too often, states have misused this flexibility without restraint,” said Perdue in a press release.

The agency is seeking to close this loophole by requiring TANF benefit recipients to go through an income background check to determine their eligibility for SNAP and exclude “broad-based categorical eligibility” that allows those with higher incomes to partake in SNAP benefits, according to USDA officials.

The USDA states that the proposal would save taxpayers $2.5 billion a year and would remove approximately 3.1 million people from food stamps.

“Unfortunately, automatic eligibility has expanded to allow even millionaires and others who simply receive a TANF-funded brochure to become eligible for SNAP when they clearly don’t need it,” acting Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps told reporters on a Monday press call.

The latest USDA report, providing data through April 2019, shows 35,993,281 individuals receiving food stamps through SNAP.

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