The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued guidance that will require states to count income from federal unemployment payments as household income for SNAP eligibility. According to the guidance issued:
“Pandemic unemployment assistance payments, pandemic unemployment compensation, and pandemic emergency unemployment compensation authorized under CARES Act are considered unearned income for the purposes of determining a household’s SNAP eligibility and benefit amount.”
Under these rules, those receiving pandemic unemployment benefits will exceed the income threshold for receiving SNAP benefits. Those previously receiving SNAP benefits will have their cases closed upon receipt of federal unemployment benefits as a result of the new guidelines.
Upon learning of the requirement, MDHS requested a waiver from FNS that the first month of pandemic unemployment payments authorized under the CARES Act be excluded from the SNAP household budget for qualification purposes. FNS denied that request.
“Any way you look at it, this is the wrong thing to do to Mississippians trying to put food on the table for their families during this pandemic,” said MDHS Executive Director Robert G. “Bob” Anderson. “This is simply a case of unintended consequences which will affect thousands of Mississippians applying for both benefits.”
Anderson also noted that other States had discovered this issue with the pandemic-related unemployment payments and are also requesting relief from FNS in separate waiver requests.
Release from Mississippi Department of Human Services.