SNAP Certification Interview Requirement Prevents Many From Qualifying

By Dennis Archambault

As we have seen with Medicaid redetermination, the administrative process is responsible for a majority of failed redetermination efforts. Navigation is key to maintaining Medicaid coverage, as well as other social services. A national advocacy group says the same is true for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Currently, the SNAP application process, which requires an interview with the client, must take place within 30 days. When SNAP was established in 1978, the Agriculture Department kept the interview requirement inherited from the previous food stamp program, stating that the interview helps the agency understand a household’s circumstances and helps the household understand the program. It was not required when SNAP was established, however.

Advocates argue that working recipients with family responsibilities have difficulty meeting the required timeline for the interview. Less than 80 percent of those who qualify for SNAP benefits actually receive them, according to the Agriculture Department. According to a 2018 GAO Report, nearly 2 million of the approximately 3.3 million students eligible to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) do not participate, leaving about $3 billion in SNAP benefits untapped each year, the National Student Legal Defense Network has indicated.

Proponents say that during the COVID pandemic emergency, the interview process was waived, and recipients were automatically recertified. As a result, food insecurity remained controlled. However, once the emergency period expired, decertification occurred. Students, many of whom also have job and family obligations, are particularly vulnerable to not qualifying for SNAP, according to advocates.

The National Student Legal Defense Network, the Center for Law and Social Policy, and the California Student Aid Commission are among the organizations advocating for changing the SNAP interview requirement.

Dennis Archambault is Vice President of Public Affairs for Authority Health.


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