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Temporary Food Stamp Eligibility Changes

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    Eligibility standards for Food Stamps have remained largely the same during the sudden economic downturn, but a number of minor changes have been made that could prove to be more consequential than they appear on the surface.

    One of the biggest changes to Food Stamps is the application and interview process. All fifty states have waived mandatory in-person interviews in exchange for other measures that maintain social distancing guidelines. These new measures give states the ability to use other measures to verify "the applicant’s identity has been verified and all other mandatory verification's have been completed." In other words, in-person interviews have been suspended and states are able to verify a family's income in other ways.

    Another major change to the Food Stamp program is the temporary suspension of work requirements for able-bodied adults. This means individuals and couples who otherwise would need to have employment or "participate in a work program at least 20 hours a week; participate in a workfare program, or; are otherwise exempt" are eligible to receive benefits past the original three-month window and may continue to receive benefits for longer than usually allowed.

    If you think Food Stamps would help you then you can apply for Food Stamps by logging on to your states Food Stamp office and submitting your application. Applying online, if you are able to, is certainly the fastest way to submit your application due to the volume of people applying for help in each state. Once your application is submitted, someone with your states Department of Health (or the equivalent) will contact you either online or over the phone to discuss your next steps.

    You don't have anything to lose by applying, so if you think you need some additional help putting food on your table then apply now so you can get the application process started.

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    Suspending work requirements really does open up this program to a lot of people. So how do they do the verification now? Do you have to send them anything beyond the application, or do they just now use the application + the phone interview to verify you?
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    bryce28 Wrote: Suspending work requirements really does open up this program to a lot of people. So how do they do the verification now? Do you have to send them anything beyond the application, or do they just now use the application + the phone interview to verify you?

    It really depends on the state someone lives in, but my guess is a state can verify someone's gross monthly income and number of people living in a household pretty easily using information they already have in the system. It may potentially be more difficult for people who don't file taxes because they don't make enough money, but the pragmatic side of me would think a state can figure out that quite easily.

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    I'm all for these changes and hope they become permanent. In-person interviews just seem like a way to make it more difficult for the most vulnerable to get help, not as a way to ensure fraud isn't taking place. The same thing for work requirements. That just seems like a solution in search of a problem.

    One thing I find frustrating is that a decent amount of college students are pretty much cut off from receiving Food Stamps...during a global pandemic. That doesn't make much sense to me at all.