TITLE OF BILL:
to amend the social services law, in relation to the food stamp program
PURPOSE OF BILL:
To allow all potentially eligible NYS food stamp recipients to receive
the federally funded benefits to which they may be entitled.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Amends section 95 of the Social Services law to require the Office of
Temporary and Disability Assistance or any other agency designated by
the Governor to apply for Federal Food Stamp Program/SNAP waivers
that would allow all eligible households to receive benefits. The
office will direct local social services districts to provide these
federal benefits to qualifying persons who must meet all program
requirements, including work requirements, other than those waived.
Federal Food Stamps (now SNAP) is the principal federal anti-hunger
program, with 100% of the benefits being paid for by the Federal
government New York is unusual, compared to most states, in that it
allows the local counties and New York City to administer the program
rather than having the state operate the program directly.
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of
1996 (PRWORA) limited the receipt of Food Stamp/SNAP benefits to 3
months in a 3-year period for able-bodied adults without dependents
(ABAWDs) who are not working, participating in, and complying with
the requirements of a work program for 20 hours or more each week.
Individuals are exempt from this provision if they are:
* under 18 or 50 years of age or older,
* responsible for the care
of a child or incapacitated household member,
* medically certified
as physically or mentally unfit for employment, pregnant, or
* already exempt from the work requirements of the Food Stamp Act.
States may request a waiver of this provision for people in areas with
an unemployment rate above 10 percent or for those in an area with
insufficient jobs. States also have authority to exempt individuals
using the 15% exemption authorized by the Balanced Budget Act. In
2008, 38 States had Waivers from this provision (including NY State
with the exception of New York City). These rules create a
significant administrative burden for the state, due to the extra
levels of bureaucracy involved in tracking these individuals. As a
result all but four states (Vermont, Iowa, New Hampshire and
Delaware) have applied for waivers from this rule during this past
year. Our State's policy has been to apply for a waiver, and then
allow each county to decide whether or not to apply the more stringent
work requirement. New York City, in particular, has opted to restrict
food stamp availability.
Moving to a statewide waiver will not increase administrative costs,
in fact many states in their filed plans with the USDA referenced
administrative savings. Eliminating this restriction and moving to a
state-wide consistent plan will simplify the administrative tracking
and decrease the chance of Federal Quality Control Errors, saving the
Increased participation in Food Stamps decreases demands on emergency
food programs (which are significantly paid for by state and local
government), improved access to food decreased nutrition related
health costs, and each dollar in Food Stamp spending generates a
$1.73 in economic activity in the local economy creating jobs and tax
The ARRA of 2009 provides $295 million for SNAP/Food Stamp
administrative costs, almost all of it to states. The formula is
based on a combination of each states' shares of SNAP/Food Stamp
households in last 12 months and caseload increases in last 12
months. NYS has seen a significant increase in Food Stamp
participation in the last year and anticipates even more growth in
applications, hence NYS receive a significant increase in Federal
administrative dollars which far exceed any administrative costs of
this sub-population of applicants.
The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) includes
provisions which expand the availability of Food Stamps/SNAP. Similar
expansions have been a part of the federal response to most
recessions, and for good reason: there is no more efficient way to
prime the economy's pump.
According to an econometric model of the US economy developed by
Moody's, every extra dollar that is distributed by the federal
government through the food stamp program generates $1.73 in gross
domestic product within the same year. (Mark Zandi, Testimony to
Congress, 1/6/2009 available at
Plan 012109.pdf). The effects of increased food
stamp assistance on
our economy are more immediate and more profound than personal income
tax rebates ($1.03 per dollar invested) or infrastructure spending
($1.59 per dollar invested). New York will have to utilize every
available tool to stave off the worst effects of this recession,
which includes deploying every dollar that is available through the
federally funded food stamp benefits program.
Under ARRA, the "three months in three years rule" has been lifted
until 2011 in order to facilitate the efficient distribution of food
stamp assistance. New York City has indicated an intention to
continue to restrict access to food stamp benefits, despite the
stimulus that result. The State of New York cannot afford to allow the
City of New York to continue to decline this infusion of federal
If either the State or a county choose not to accept a particular food
stamp waiver, tens of millions of dollars in federal food stamps may
not be used at New York grocery stores and farmers' markets. This
reduced spending may reduce the number of entry level jobs in food
stores in distressed neighborhoods - jobs that could be filled by
former program participants.
Overburdened nonprofit food pantries and soup kitchen are forced to
feed additional hungry people even though a federal program is
This bill would allow New York to maximize food stamps coming into our
communities, benefit our local economies, improve nutrition, reduce
hunger, provide additional markets for farmers, and reduce the
burdens on emergency food programs. By simplifying Food Stamp rules
and creating one policy statewide, it will further decrease Food
Stamp Administrative Error Rates.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS:
The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance will inform local
social services districts of approved federal waivers.
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