Categorical Eligibility Rule Impacts in West Virginia

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On July 24th, 2019, the Trump Administration proposed a rule to eliminate categorical eligibility provisions in the SNAP program. The USDA estimates that 9% of participating SNAP households would lose eligibility, impacting approximately 3.1 million people’s access to food across the country. Seniors and working families would be disproportionately affected by this rule change, and 17.2 million households that remain eligible would have to undergo a more burdensome application process with their local county offices.

The rule would increase federal and state administrative costs by $2.3 billion, and increase inefficiencies in the roll-out of this vital nutrition assistance program. The estimated economic impact to the retail food economy is a loss of $9.4 billion dollars. Because SNAP is an economic multiplier these changes to the program would negatively impact GDP by $14 billion a year.

In West Virginia, where rural food retailers are already struggling under competitive pressures of a consolidating food industry the economic impacts will be severe. Over 25,000 people will lose access to SNAP benefits resulting in a net loss to the state of nearly $20 million a year. The table below estimates the impacts of the proposed rule change at the county level.

Public comment is open until September 23rd, 2019