Heflin, Mueser, Cronin identify inaccuracies in SNAP-eligibility information

Colleen Heflin

Peter Mueser

Jacob Cronin

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides billions of dollars in federal support to millions of families and children in the United States. By supplying a reliable source of funds for food, SNAP has been found to reduce both extreme poverty and child poverty in American households.

Using information gathered from state websites over a two-month period, Dr. Colleen Heflin, Truman School professor of public affairs; Dr. Peter Mueser, professor of economics in the College of Arts and Science; and Jacob Cronin, Truman School doctoral candidate, found that online program eligibility information provided to prospective SNAP applicants is inconsistent with declared policies on SNAP asset limits. The researchers suggest that discrepancies are likely due to administrative inattention and the complex ways by which federal and state governments changed asset limit policies; however, they submit that, regardless of its source, such discrepancy discourages eligible individuals from applying for SNAP benefits, violates policy transparency, and blunts benefits policymakers intended with the decision to eliminate the asset test.

The researchers describe the study and offer policy recommendations in a policy brief, How Accurate is Online Information about SNAP?