May 31, 2023 - Economy

SNAP expands (a tiny bit) with the debt ceiling deal

Illustration of a peach with a dollar-bill-shaped leaf

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The debt ceiling deal imposes new work requirements on food-insecure Americans in their early 50s in a move that has alarmed anti-hunger advocates.

How it works: At the moment, work requirements are in place for able-bodied adults under the age of 50 who do not live with any dependent children. Under the new law, the age cap will be increased to 54 after 2025 — but a new slew of exemptions will also be enacted.

  • Adults under 54 — including many under 50 who are covered by existing work requirements — will be exempted if they're veterans or experiencing homelessness, including individuals temporarily living in someone else's home.
  • Adults under 24 will also be exempted if they were in foster care when they turned 18.

What they're saying: "[T]he agreement will provide meaningful & much-needed support for Americans who are homeless & housing insecure," tweeted HUD secretary Marcia Fudge.

By the numbers: After 2025, when the new work requirements are in full effect, the CBO has determined that "approximately 78,000 people would gain benefits in an average month, on net."

  • While the new work requirements will save the government $6.5 billion between 2023 and 2033, the new exemptions will cost the government $6.8 billion over the same period.
  • Overall, the cost of SNAP will rise by 0.2%, or $2.1 billion, over the decade.

The bottom line: The new SNAP work requirements do absolutely nothing when it comes to deficit reduction. But they do help veterans and the homeless.

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