By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent

In 20 states, more than 10 percent of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households are slated to lose eligibility of the benefits. The data visualization examines characteristics of the affected population which includes those with children and those living in poverty.

A proposed rule from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will eliminate SNAP’s broad-based categorical eligibility (BBCE). This would cause SNAP households in 39 states along with the District of Columbia, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to lose program eligibility, according to an impact assessment by Mathematica. 

New proposed rule on SNAP eligibility is slated to affect 3.6 million people across the country. (Photo Credit: Pixabay)

The analysis, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, finds that more than 10 percent of SNAP households in 20 states would lose eligibility. Nearly 1 in 10 SNAP households nationwide, which is equivalent to 3.6 million people, are slated to lose eligibility under the proposed rule.

The state-by-state data was released via an interactive data visualization, “Impact of Proposed Policy Changes to SNAP Categorical Eligibility by State,” which uses SNAP quality control data from 2016 and microsimulation modeling to provide detailed information on the demographic characteristics of those at risk of losing benefits. .

“Under the proposed rule, millions of vulnerable families will have an even harder time making ends meet and putting food on the table. This research shows that this pain will be felt in states across the nation,” said Richard Besser, MD, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Any reforms to SNAP should reduce food insecurity, not exacerbate it. We urge USDA to withdraw this rule and reconsider its approach to SNAP,” he adds.

Under current law, states may establish BBCE policies that enable households receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)-funded noncash benefits to qualify for SNAP by meeting the financial criteria of the TANF-funded program rather than federal SNAP criteria. 

Programs conferring BBCE may allow households with higher gross incomes, more countable resources, like money in a bank account, or both, to qualify for SNAP benefits. Households that meet BBCE standards must meet SNAP’s nonfinancial eligibility criteria, such as adhering to work requirements. Their benefits will be determined under the same rules as other eligible households.

“Eliminating BBCE would mean millions of people currently receiving SNAP benefits would become ineligible. Using available data and microsimulation modeling, we break down the numbers and show the impact in each state for both individuals and households,” said Sarah Lauffer, a senior research programmer at Mathematica. “This simulation gives policymakers insight into the populations potentially affected and allows them to plan for ways to address the needs that their states will face if the proposed rule takes effect.”

USDA is accepting public comment on the proposed rule through Sept. 23.