ACTION ALERT: Stop the Asset Test for SNAP Benefits, Help Fight Hunger

Seniors and Hunger

Governor Corbett plans to bar Pennsylvania seniors and families with modest savings from getting SNAP (food stamps) starting May 1.  This issue is of great concern to seniors.  

Families with as little as $2,000 ($3,250 for seniors and people with disabilities) would no longer qualify for benefits. Under the proposed asset test, tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians would be cut from the program in this tough economy.  In addition to increasing hunger, an asset test would hurt Pennsylvania businesses and the economy, because every $1 in SNAP benefits generates $1.73 in economic activity.  SeniorLAW Center is a signator to the attached letter objecting to the asset test, joining the Coalition Against Hunger and other partners, because seniors are more likely than others to have modest savings to pay for increasing costs of living, medications, utilities and other necessities, and would be particularly affected by the new requirement. 

You can also join us in this advocacy. 

Call 800-515-8134 this week.  Tell Governor Corbett:

“I urge you to stop the asset test for food stamps. This plan would hurt seniors and Pennsylvania's economy.” (phone line provided by AARP PA)

Key points about this issue are below.  Thank you for joining us in the fight against hunger and for all you do to protect the rights of older Pennsylvanians.

Key Points About Hunger, Food Stamps and the Proposed Asset Test: 

The asset test punishes people for saving money: Saving money is one of the surest paths from poverty to self-sufficiency. Forcing a family to drain their savings before receiving help is not only cruel, but counterproductive in helping them move off government assistance. Recognizing the devastating effects of an asset test, 36 states and the District of Columbia have no asset test for SNAP.  

An asset test would hurt seniors and people who’ve recently lost their jobs:  Under the planned asset test, tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians could lose their SNAP benefits, particularly seniors living on fixed incomes and the recently unemployed—two groups that are more likely than others to have savings or cars.      
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The planned asset test limit ($2,000 for most households/$3,250 for seniors or people with disabilities) is unreasonable. The $2,000 federal asset test has been in place since 1986, when that amount could buy twice as much as it can today. A household with $2,000 in savings would be ill-prepared to pay for medical emergencies or the first and last month’s rent required for an apartment of their own.

An asset test would hurt Pennsylvania businesses and the economy: Pennsylvania could lose tens of millions of dollars each year in federally funded SNAP benefits, which would otherwise be pumped into the state’s economy as food stamps are spent at grocery stores, farmers’ markets and small businesses across the state.  Because every $1 in SNAP benefits generates $1.73 in economic activity, Pennsylvania stands to lose millions more if the asset test is reinstated.

An asset test would not save Pennsylvania any state taxpayer money: SNAP benefits are fully funded by the federal government, so no state tax dollars would be saved. The costs for administering food stamps are split between the federal government and the state. By adding an asset test, the state’s administrative costs would actually increase to pay for technological upgrades, additional training and staff time.

An asset test would not weed out waste, fraud and abuse in the Department of Public Welfare: Pennsylvania currently has one of the lowest SNAP fraud rates in the nation: less than 1 percent, according to the USDA. The planned asset test would place further strain on already understaffed County Assistance Offices, increasing opportunities for errors in processing applications.   






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