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NEWS: Administration fails to exempt unemployment income from SNAP; benefits affected

By Jacob Nakamura

The Leon Guerrero administration has failed to protect food stamps recipients eligible for the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program from having their FPUC income count against their food stamps benefits.

Department of Public Health and Social Services (which administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or food stamps) officials last week said FPUC income would count against food stamps benefits. Congressman Michael San Nicolas wrote to public health director Linda DeNorcey after seeing her agency's guidance on the matter and informed her that Congress itself has published guidance that FPUC income should not count against food stamps income eligibility.

Public health spokeswoman Bertha Taijeron last week said the department's chief human services administrator Tess Archangel would be seeking further guidance from the federal agency that funds food stamps, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Nutrition Services office.

Today Ms. Taijeron said guidance has come, and that it would be provided by the Joint Information Center.

This afternoon, the JIC issued a news release warning food stamps recipients to report the income they receive from the two unemployment programs available to qualified workers, including the FPUC. This is what the warning reads:

"The Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS) reminds recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that a change report must be submitted to the Bureau of Economic Security (BES) when a household’s income exceeds the 130% Federal Poverty Level (FPL) for their household’s size. The change report is due by the 10th day of the following month in which the change occurred.  For example, for this fiscal year, the 130% FPL for household size of one is $1,354. If the household’s gross income exceeds $1,354 in June 2020, the household is required to submit a change report by July 10, 2020.
"In addition, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Paycheck Protection Program benefits are countable income under the SNAP as per Food and Nutrition Service guidance, which may reduce recipient’s current benefit."

Below is the SNAP Table at 130% FPL for Fiscal Year 2020.

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero did not reach out to FNS to change the guidance.

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