Nearly 3 percent of the households that receive food stamps in United States would have been ineligible to receive them if the income eligibility rules had not been changed, the Government Accountability Office has reported.
According to the GAO, in fiscal year 2010 the government spent an extra $460 million on the food stamp program — $38 million per month, or about $1.26 million per day — because of relaxed limits on the amount of income a household may have and still receive the assistance. Those changes in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the fancy name for food stamps, fall under the rubric “broad-based categorical eligibility.”
About one in seven Americans are now on food stamps. GAO blames most of the increase in food stamp recipients on the bad economy, but the broadened eligibility standards explain a lot.
According to GAO, “In fiscal year 2010, GAO estimates that 2.6 percent (473,000) of households that received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits would not have been eligible for the program without broad-based categorical eligibility (BBCE) because their incomes were over the federal SNAP eligibility limits.”
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