Pa. to renew asset test for nutrition aid

Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare plans to reinstate an asset test for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps. Under the proposal, older SNAP recipients could not have more than $9,000 in savings.

Philadelphia Corporation for Aging Senior Vice President Holly Lange said she’s worried the new asset test will deter older Philadelphians.

“I think seniors, as a group, already try to avoid food stamps because they consider it a welfare program,” she said. “And this will be seen as just another reason for those who would qualify, and really need the food stamps, to avoid applying for them.”

Lange said some seniors will be deterred by the additional paperwork and disclosures.

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A home, retirement accounts and a first car do not count toward the limit, which is higher than a previously proposed ceiling.

Roxborough resident John Manton, 64, said he’s been receiving food stamps since June. Manton, who was laid off from his job, and he does not expect the asset test will disqualify him.

“I’ve very rarely had $10,000 in the bank anyway. So, I don’t know, I would like to save money because I have no health insurance,” he said. “I think the asset test is really silly.”

Until 2008 Pennsylvania used asset testing to screen SNAP participants.

Department of Public Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander said reinstating asset testing to qualify for food assistance will help preserve limited taxpayer resources for the truly needy.

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