Last week, the USDA announced they had published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that would add restrictions to states' ability to apply Categorical Eligibility for families seeking SNAP benefits.
Currently, states have the flexibility to use what is called "Categorical Eligibility" to aid households seeking assistance. SNAP has very specific income and eligibility guidelines. Those looking to receive benefits must supply proof that their household meets those guidelines. With Categorical Eligibility, if those households are already receiving TANF assistance, either cash or non-cash benefits, they would be automatically eligible for SNAP due to TANF's income guidelines being lower than SNAP's.
The USDA's proposed rule would impose stricter regulations to Categorical Eligibility, making it harder for families in need to receive benefits that can make the difference between a full or empty stomach.
According to the USDA, their new rule would see 3.1 million SNAP recipients losing their benefits in 2020. Not only will 8% of SNAP recipients lose their benefits, but it could also take away free school meals from hundreds of thousands of children whose enrollment is linked to their families' SNAP participation. Restricting Categorical Eligibility would also make the benefit cliff effect more likely in SNAP, making it harder for working families to lift themselves out of poverty.
In short, this proposed rule would increase the risk of food insecurity for millions of Americans.