West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy
SNAP restrictions included in this month’s federal debt limit deal will impact the Mountain State more severely than any other state on a per capita basis due to West Virginia’s aging population. Nationwide, nearly 750,000 older adults aged 50-54 will be at risk of losing their food assistance due to these new provisions, including 7,000 in West Virginia. These SNAP changes will go into effect this fall just as federal SNAP dollars are already leaving the state economy due to pandemic-era SNAP programs ending, potentially burdening an already stressed charitable food sector and removing millions of dollars from the food economy.
The SNAP changes in the debt ceiling agreement expand mandatory work reporting requirements as a condition of receiving SNAP benefits to include persons between the ages of 50-54. Currently, SNAP has an existing work reporting requirement that requires most adults between 18-49 without children in the home to comply with onerous work reporting requirements or otherwise prove they qualify for an exemption to the requirement.
A significant body of research has found that these work reporting requirements do not improve employment or earnings – they just take food assistance away from those who need it. Ample evidence also shows that many adults who do meet exemptions from the requirement are not properly screened and lose food assistance even when they should not. Expanding the failed work reporting requirements will put an additional 7,000 West Virginians between 50-54 at risk of losing their food assistance in any given month. West Virginia will be the most impacted of any state on a per capita basis, due to our higher-than-average older and disabled population. While nationally, 36 percent of SNAP recipients reside in a family with an older or disabled member, in West Virginia that rate is 44 percent. …