USDA aims to close food stamps loophole exposed by MN man

The department will tighten requirements after a Minnesota man claimed SNAP benefits despite being a millionaire.
Author:
Publish date:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed a rule Tuesday that would close a food stamps loophole that allowed a Minnesota man to receive the benefits despite being a millionaire.

According to a press release from the USDA, the proposed change would end automatic eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for individuals already receiving minimal government assistance from other programs.

The USDA claims this would close a loophole that allows individuals with sufficient income and assets to enroll in the program.

“The American people expect their government to be fair, efficient, and to have integrity – just as they do in their own homes, businesses, and communities. That is why we are changing the rules, preventing abuse of a critical safety net system, so those who need food assistance the most are the only ones who receive it,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in a statement.

This loophole was brought to national attention after Minnesota man Rob Undersander, a self-described millionaire, said he was able to claim SNAP benefits for 19 months.

Despite taking money from a Roth IRA, which is not included in income eligibility standards because it's drawn tax-free in retirement, Undersander enrolled in the program to prove a point to a Minnesota House committee in 2018.

The display received significant backlash from lawmakers, while others called for reform of the state’s SNAP eligibility requirements.

What will change?

Currently applicants must have an income of less than 165 percent the federal poverty limit to be approved for SNAP.

The USDA’s proposal establishes guidelines for how long a household must receive other government assistance and how much assistance they must receive before being automatically eligible for food stamps.

In order to qualify for SNAP, a household must have received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash or non-cash benefits valued at a minimum of $50 per month for at least 6 months. 

According to the USDA, some states allow individuals who receive minimal benefits, which could include something as simple as receiving an information brochure, to enroll in SNAP without regard to certain sources of income or assets.

The proposed change by the USDA would remove 3 million people from SNAP eligibility.

Per the Washington Post, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D.-Mich), ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, pushed back against the proposed changes.

“This proposal is yet another attempt by this Administration to circumvent Congress and make harmful changes to nutrition assistance that have been repeatedly rejected on a bipartisan basis,” Stabenow said in a statement. "This rule would take food away from families, prevent children from getting school meals, and make it harder for states to administer food assistance.'

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 8 percent of Minnesotans used SNAP in Fiscal Year 2017. Of those individuals, 35 percent had an income at or below 50 percent of the poverty level, 42 percent had an income of between 51 and 100 percent of the poverty level, and 23 percent had an income above 100 percent of the poverty level. 

Next Up

Randy Dobnak

Michael Brantley, Astros pound Twins pitching in series finale

Randy Dobnak's six earned runs was part of a long afternoon.

Seimone Augustus

Lynx to retire jerseys of Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson next season

The former Lynx stars were a key piece of their four WNBA titles.

police tape, crime scene

Rushford police officer fires gun during report of a restraining order violation

The incident occurred on Highway 30 near the Rushford Municipal Airport.

lake water

18-year-old dies from drowning in Quarry Park

The incident is one of several drownings to occur in Minnesota in recent weeks.

Screen Shot 2021-06-13 at 8.28.44 AM

College pitcher from MN gets new prosthetic arm after his was stolen

A tough luck story turned out very positive for the Hawley native.

vaccine, covid

MN saw decline in routine child vaccinations amid pandemic

The CDC study looked at Minnesota and nine other states.

Water

Child hospitalized after drowning in Ham Like

Their current condition is not known.

pontoon

Man dies after falling from pontoon, being swept under boat

Friends believe he struck the motor while under the boat.

Related

Debate over food stamps turns nasty at the Capitol

Proposed changes to a SNAP benefits loophole saw tensions rise.

Should the government dictate what people on food stamps eat?

The government is suggesting a radical change to the SNAP program.

How have MN politicians reacted to Trump attacks on Congresswomen?

Trump continued his attacks on Monday, once more targeting Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Omar, Tlaib respond to Israel barring in Minnesota press conference

Israel's prime minister barred the two from entering the country after a tweet from President Trump.

Capitol Hill, Washington D.C.

Republican Kendall Qualls to challenge Rep. Dean Phillips in 2020

Qualls, a businessman and Army veteran, filed to run against Phillips Tuesday.

Ilhan Omar responds after Indiana congressman questions her PTSD

The Minnesota congresswoman said talks of a possible war with Iran were triggering her PTSD.