Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): Categorical Eligibility [February 2, 2016] [open pdf - 816KB]
From the report summary: "The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides benefits to low-income, eligible households on an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card; benefits can then be exchanged for foods at authorized retailers. SNAP reaches a large share of low-income households. In FY2015, a monthly average of 45.8 million persons in 22.4 million households participated in SNAP. [...] As of December 2014, 42 jurisdictions have implemented what the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has called 'broad-based' categorical eligibility. These jurisdictions generally make all households with incomes below a state-determined income threshold eligible for SNAP. States do this by providing households with a low-cost TANF [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families]-funded benefit or service such as a brochure or referral to an '800' number telephone hotline. There are varying income eligibility thresholds within states that convey 'broad-based' categorical eligibility, though no state has a gross income limit above 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. In all but five of these jurisdictions, there is no asset test required for SNAP eligibility. Categorically eligible families bypass the regular SNAP asset limits. However, their net incomes (income after deductions for expenses) must still be low enough to qualify for a SNAP benefit. That is, it is possible to be categorically eligible for SNAP but have net income too high to actually receive a benefit. The exception to this is one- or two-person households that would still receive the minimum benefit. The Agriculture Act of 2014 (the '2014 Farm Bill,' P.L. 113-79) made no changes to SNAP categorical eligibility rules. The House-passed version of the bill that became the 2014 Farm Bill would have eliminated broad-based categorical eligibility, but that change was not included in the conference agreement on the bill."
CRS Report for Congress, R42054
National Agricultural Law Center: http://nationalaglawcenter.org/