State officials announced they are eliminating a controversial test for people on food stamps. It restricted benefits, based on things like recipients’ bank accounts and car ownership.
The asset test went into effect under former Governor Tom Corbett to prevent fraud. Certain assets were exempt, including houses, retirement benefits and owning one car. But the Wolf administration says the policy is hurting the poor.
It will end Monday and some are questioning whether more screening is needed to take its place.
The test limited eligibility based on cash, stocks, personal property and other items. Human Services secretary Ted Dallas says it disproportionately penalized seniors and people with disabilities.
“It was impacting some of the most vulnerable, vulnerable people we have,” says Dallas.
Advocates say the asset test penalized the poor for saving money, and some pepople who qualified for benefits were unable to file the paperwork needed for the test.
When it’s taken out of the screening process on Monday, it will allow more people into the system, but Dallas says it won’t be many more.
“The SNAP asset test only covered about 1 percent of the population receiving food stamps, so it’s a very small percentage of the population,” he says.
The DHS says while the policy was intended to save the state money, it’s so complicated that revoking it will actually save the state $3.5 million a year.
But some lawmakers are concerned more screening is needed, not less.
“Any welfare program we know, theres going to be fraud, waste and abuse, thats why it’s important to have checks and balances that protect the taxpayers,” says Rep. Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland County).