COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly referred to as SNAP, is facing a potential rule change at the federal level that could impact thousands of people across Ohio.
But, time is running out to weigh in on whether this rule should stay or go.
The Trump Administration wants to get rid of “broad-based categorical eligibility,” but local advocates say that would be bad for Ohioans.
Lisa Hamler-Fugitt is the executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks.
“This is the law. This is not a loophole as it has been portrayed, and it is yet one more attempt by the Trump Administration to circumvent the will of Congress,” she said.
If the rule is adopted, an estimated 37,000 to 100,000 Ohioans could lose their SNAP benefits, according to Hamler-Fugitt, some of which could be kids.
Republican state Rep. Scott Wiggam has a bill that addresses SNAP benefits at the state level and he supports the idea of eliminating categorical eligibility.
“Categorical eligibility made it very easy just to simply give out food stamps without checking anything,” he said.
Hamler-Fugitt says Wiggam is just flat out wrong — in order to qualify under categorical eligibility, a person’s income cannot exceed the federal poverty level.
“Ohio has participated for more than 10 years now. In fact, they’ve touted that it’s allowed them to streamline their program and make it less error-prone,” Hamler-Fugitt said.
She also gave another real-life example of what eliminating categorical eligibility could look like.
“Just think about it. Telling a senior that no, you can’t have that burial insurance policy because it’s valued at $4,000, you have to liquidate that in order to be able to feed yourself. Ridiculous,” she said.
“I don’t agree with that at all. I have looked over all of the classifications of when they do asset tests, and I think that they’re trying to fuzzy the waters to make it look like this is not doable,” Wiggam said.
Public comment on the rule change closes on Sept. 23.