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USDA Publishes SNAP Final Rule, Including Eligibility Reforms

SNAP final rule

The SNAP final rule published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) includes eligibility reforms and program standards.

The SNAP final rule is designed to ensure that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) standards on eligibility for students and restrictions for lottery winners and convicted felons are consistently applied, and that program integrity is secure.

The SNAP final rule, published in the Federal Register, reforms SNAP by:

• Restricting SNAP eligibility for those with lottery and gambling winnings;

• Ensuring that exceptions to the prohibition on student SNAP eligibility focus appropriately on educational programs that deliver skills needed for the current job market;

• Requiring consistent use of a system of  data verification technology for income, eligibility and immigration status to protect integrity; and

• Implementing the statutory prohibition against SNAP receipt for certain convicted felons who are fleeing or otherwise not in compliance with the terms of their sentence or parole.

“Americans lose confidence in our oversight of the SNAP when there is a chance benefits go to millionaire lottery winners and convicted felons violating parole,” USDA Acting Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps said. “Which is why I am pleased that we have completed action on this rule that strengthens integrity in this critical nutrition assistance program.”

States have had the authority for some time to impose these requirements at their option but did not do so consistently. The final rule clarifies the specific standards for their implementation.

The rulemaking is the USDA’s most recent attempt to promote the integrity of SNAP.

Among the actions taken:

• Modernization of the SNAP Quality Control system, which assesses the volume and causes of improper payments, through updated guidance and training for states to improve data quality;
• The SNAP Fraud Framework, a toolkit designed to help state agencies detect and prevent fraud, and to sharpen their investigative techniques
• Updating the Memorandum of Understanding between FNS and USDA’s Office of Inspector General to increase the expeditious investigation and pursuit of suspected SNAP retailer violations.

USDA says it will continue to work with all who are interested in its programs, their participants, and the taxpayers who make it possible, to ensure that every dollar invested in the program is used wisely.

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