Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Rules Give More New Mexicans Access to Food Stamps

Patricia Anders, an attorney at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, brings us a bit of good news about changes in the rules of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that will open the program to more New Mexicans.  SNAP is commonly known as "the Food Stamp program."

The center has made SNAP one of its projects in New Mexico  Staff attorneys work extensively with government, advocates, and community organizations to protect and improve the SNAP program in our state. Read more

"The new SNAP rules are expected to be in place in New Mexico in early spring," said Ms. Anders.  "They will allow many more families to access SNAP benefits which are 100% federally funded."

Ms. Anders tells us that eligibility will be expanded in two ways.
1. The asset test will be removed. Currently, most New Mexicans are ineligible for SNAP benefits if they have over $2,000 in countable assets ($3,000 for elderly or disabled households). In 2008 alone, over 1,000 families requested SNAP assistance and were turned away because of the asset test.

Extending benefits to these families alone will bring an additional $4.3 million in federal SNAP dollars to New Mexico each year. It will also help asset development in New Mexico.

2. The SNAP gross income test will be raised from 130% FPL (Federal Poverty Law) to 165% FPL. The Human Services Department (HSD) estimates 5,500 more families per month will qualify and that an additional $10.5 million additional SNAP benefits per year will flow into the state.
The center works on many other issues related to poverty in New Mexico, such as homelessness, access to health care for indigent New Mexicans, and advocacy for farm workers.   Click here for full list of projects and activities.

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