In moving to combat in-state welfare fraud, Michigan is requiring food stamp recipients to provide information on their assets to determine whether they should continue to qualify for benefits. Under the new rules launched earlier this month, current recipients are obligated to report the values on their homes, vehicles, stocks, bonds, and even lottery winnings. Residents with $5,000 in liquid assets or driving a vehicle worth over $15,000 may no longer qualify for benefits. So far, the state has identified about 15,000 people who could lose their food stamp benefits.
Although the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — commonly known as food stamps — is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, states distribute the benefits and have the authority to make certain decisions on eligibility. (In Michigan, the program is called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, [FAP — Food Assistance Program] and is administered by the Department of Human Services [DHS], which has offices in every county of Michigan.) Michigan’s policy change is a shift from the trend for states to request information only on recipients’ income. Texas and Indiana are among other states that consider assets, while Oregon and New York are among those who check only income when determining eligibility for the program. As the U.S. economy has continued to decay, eligibility requirements for food stamps have loosened, with 35 states now having abolished asset tests for food stamp recipients.
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