DHHS Holds Public Hearing on Food Stamp Asset Test

The Department of Health and Human Services is implementing an asset test for people receiving food stamps. “We are going back to federal law pre-recession,” said Department of Health & Services Policy Research Director, David Sorensen.

About 20 people attended a public hearing to express why they think people should or shouldn’t have to disclose assets when applying or re-applying for SNAP, or Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits.

“In August of 2010, Governor Baldacci waived this common sense requirement. We are bringing it back because it is time for integrity in the welfare system,” said David Sorensen.

Re-implementing the measure will apply to as many as 8,000 SNAP recipients. The asset rule is defined by bank account balances, ATVs, and campers that exceed $5,000.

“You need to use your own resources available to you before you ask the taxpayers for help,” said David Sorensen.

The rule does not include equity in a home or a household’s primary vehicle. Officials say the measure will take effect on November 1st.

“There’s people, many many people, in our state who have worked really and continue to work hard to have things and those small possessions shouldn’t get in the way of temporarily needing food assistance to get them through a bad time,” said Preble Street Chief Program Officer, Donna Yellen.

“It is actually counterintuitive. If we think about wanting SNAP recipients to become self-sufficient and not have to rely on federal assistance nutritional assistance programs, we should be encouraging a little bit of savings,” said Good Shepherd Food Bank Public Affairs Director, Clara Whitney.