May 8, 2015

Food Stamps and the Law of Unintended Consequences

A recent Washington Post article notes that President Obama’s healthcare law has, in some states, had a surprising and perhaps unintended effect—it has increased the number of Americans who apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) even though eligibility rules have not changed and the national economy has been showing signs of improvement.

Why are more people applying for SNAP? The health care overhaul not only extended coverage to more Americans, but also made it easier to access this and other government benefit programs. As the article notes, new streamlined application systems are making it easier for individuals to apply for Medicaid and food stamps at the same time.  “The food-stamp increase was not envisioned by either supporters or opponents of the new health care system,” the article noted. “While it’s unclear exactly how much growth can be attributed to the law and incentives it offered to states, the increased enrollment could be expensive. The average food-stamp recipient was paid $123.35 a month last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers SNAP,” the article stated.

In Connecticut, the Department of Social Services administers SNAP, determining eligibility based on income limits that, in certain cases, include savings and investment income. For more information, including information on monthly income limits and maximum SNAP benefits per household size, visit the Connecticut Department of Social Services’ website.