WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing a new rule that would modernize the way utility costs are factored in when states calculate a household’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
According to the U.S.D.A., the new rule would “improve integrity and modernize benefit calculations by ensuring standard utility allowances better align with what households actually pay for utilities, with data-driven adjustments for each state to reflect real differences in these costs. This helps to ensure that their SNAP benefit amounts reflect their true circumstances, no matter which state they call home.”
The U.S.D.A. said several of the SNAP Standard Utility Allowances currently used were developed in the 1970s. The more modern, uniform approach being recommended by the U.S.D.A. would be based on national surveys of actual household utility costs in each state. Implementation of the rule would decrease the administrative burden of maintaining the calculations at the state level, the U.S.D.A. said.