opposite appears to be true those in most need as defined by education and

Opposite appears to be true those in most need as

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opposite appears to be true: those in most need, as defined by education and income, find it most difficult to navigate the SNAP application process.9 Third, the benefit level can be quite small—for some families, as low as $10 per month. Given the inverse relationship between income and SNAP benefit levels, this explains why, all else equal, households with incomes closer to the Box 1. SNAP Eligibility To receive SNAP b2enefits, households must both be eligible for and choose to enter the program. To be eligible for SNAP, households first have to meet a monthly gross income test—the household’s income (before any deductions) must be under 130 percent of the poverty line (although some states have set higher thresholds). There are exceptions; for instance, households with at least one elderly member or one disabled member do not have to meet this test. Households then must have a net income below the poverty line. Net income is calculated as gross income minus certain deductions, including, for example, a 20 percent earned income deduction and a dependent care deduction when such care is necessary for work, training, or education. Households that pass the gross income test must also pass the net income test; this is obviously more likely to be binding in states with higher gross-income thresholds. The final SNAP eligibility test concerns assets. As defined at the federal level, a household’s total assets must add up to less than $2,000. Some resources are not counted, such as a home and up to $4,650 of the fair market value of one car per adult household member. As with the gross income test, states can apply for waivers to make the asset test less restrictive. Some categories of people do not have to meet these tests. For example, households in which all members receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) are automatically eligible for SNAP. (For more on TANF, see Lawrence Berger and Sarah Font's article in this issue.) Conversely, able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 50 years without dependents (ABAWDs) must be employed to receive SNAP even if they meet the income and asset criteria. If they are not employed, they can lose their SNAP benefits. In areas with particularly high unemployment rates or limited employment opportunities, this so-called “ABAWD requirement” is waived. This waiver is not automatic—states must make this request of the USDA. For those who pass the eligibility tests, the amount of SNAP benefits is calculated by multiplying the household’s net income by 0.3. The multiplied value is then subtracted from the value of the Thrifty Food Plan, which varies by household size and composition. One implication is that a household that has a net income of zero will receive the maximum benefit level. Another implication is that households receiving less than the maximum benefit level are expected to spend at least some of their own income on food. Though states have discretion over various aspects of SNAP, including the
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