New Hampshire Changes Eligibility Requirements For Food Stamp Program

2009-04-22 11:33

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Division of Family Assistance (DFA) announces a change in eligibility for the Food Stamp Program (FSP). The change will allow an increase in access to the FSP to those who previously may have been denied these benefits.

“We hope the changes in eligibility will help make it easier for people to apply and gain access to this program that provides critical nutrition assistance,” said DHHS Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas. “This will be especially helpful during these difficult economic times when so many more families are struggling to make ends meet.”

Under the current program, clients must be under 130% of federal poverty level and have less than $2,000 in cashable assets. An example of a cashable asset is something like a snowmobile. While applicants who have lost their job may have no income to buy food, frequently they’re not eligible for food stamps because of the cashable asset. With the changes in eligibility the US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service is allowing states an opportunity to do away with the cashable asset under certain circumstances, including when:

* There is at least one FS household member who is a dependent child;

* There is at least one FS household member who is a relative to that dependent child; and

* The household’s gross income is less than or equal to 185% of the federal poverty income guidelines

“There are many advantages to this change in policy,” said DFA Director Terry Smith. “Families will no longer be penalized for things they bought when they were working. Town welfare and food pantries will be slightly less burdened to provide food relief. There are no State general funds involved. There will be an increase of federal dollars into New Hampshire’s economy through food stamps; and New Hampshire children will be eating better.”

A second part of the policy change lifts the initial gross income test for food stamps from 130% of poverty to 185%. Because certain expenses are subtracted from gross income to determine final eligibility, this means that applicants with significant child and dependent care expenses will now be eligible for food stamps.

For example: A family of three earning $2,823 (185% of poverty) paying more than $500 per month for rent and out of pocket child care costs of $450 per month would have been ineligible for FS before these changes. Under the new rules this family would receive $102 a month in FS benefits.

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