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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Acs, Gregory; Wheaton, Laura
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2019

    The current administration has proposed changing the way we measure inflation when setting the federal poverty thresholds because it believes that the current measure, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (CPI-U), overstates inflation. An alternative measure the administration is considering and seeking public input on is the Chained Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers, commonly known as “chained CPI.”

    Switching the inflation measure from CPI-U to the chained CPI would result in slower inflation rates from year to year. The differences between the two inflation measures would be minimal at first but would compound over time. Fewer low-income people would be included among those living under the poverty line and fewer would qualify for programs that use federal poverty guidelines (which are based on the poverty thresholds) to determine eligibility. A program that relies on federal poverty guidelines to determine eligibility is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the nation’s primary food assistance program that serves roughly 40 million people...

    The current administration has proposed changing the way we measure inflation when setting the federal poverty thresholds because it believes that the current measure, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (CPI-U), overstates inflation. An alternative measure the administration is considering and seeking public input on is the Chained Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers, commonly known as “chained CPI.”

    Switching the inflation measure from CPI-U to the chained CPI would result in slower inflation rates from year to year. The differences between the two inflation measures would be minimal at first but would compound over time. Fewer low-income people would be included among those living under the poverty line and fewer would qualify for programs that use federal poverty guidelines (which are based on the poverty thresholds) to determine eligibility. A program that relies on federal poverty guidelines to determine eligibility is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the nation’s primary food assistance program that serves roughly 40 million people per month.

    In this brief, we use Urban’s Analysis of Transfer, Taxes, and Income Security microsimulation model and 2016 American Community Survey data to estimate the number of people who would ultimately lose SNAP benefits if the poverty guidelines were based on poverty thresholds adjusted for inflation using the chained CPI. We find that in 2016:

    • 579,000 SNAP recipients would have been ineligible for SNAP if the chained CPI had been the inflation measure used to adjust federal poverty thresholds for the previous 15 years. Among those recipients, 242,000—or about 42 percent—would have been children.
    • The number of recipients losing SNAP eligibility would grow over time. Had the chained CPI been used for five years prior to 2016, 104,000 SNAP recipients would have been ineligible, and if it had been used for ten years, 245,000 recipients would have been ineligible. 
    • Had the chained CPI been used for the previous 15 years, just over 240,000 SNAP households would have been ineligible in the average month in 2016, including nearly 50,000 households with a person age 60 or older, more than 20,000 households with a person with a disability, and more than 118,000 households with at least one child.
    • The number households that would have been ineligible in 2016 also varies by state with more populous states experiencing the largest reductions in eligibility. Had the chained CPI been used for the previous 15 years, 24,000 households and 15,000 households in New York and California, respectively, would have been ineligible. (Author abstract)

     

  • Individual Author: Wheaton, Laura; Tran, Victoria
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps millions of poor and low-income Americans purchase food, is the nation’s largest nutrition assistance program. This analysis estimates SNAP’s effect on poverty using the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). We augment the Census Bureau’s SPM to correct for the underreporting of SNAP and other means-tested benefits in the underlying survey data. We find that SNAP removed 8.4 million people from poverty in 2015, reducing the poverty rate from 15.4 percent to 12.8 percent (a reduction of 17 percent). SNAP reduced the poverty gap (the aggregate amount of additional income required to remove all poor families from poverty) by $35 billion (21 percent) in 2015. (Author abstract) 

    The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps millions of poor and low-income Americans purchase food, is the nation’s largest nutrition assistance program. This analysis estimates SNAP’s effect on poverty using the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). We augment the Census Bureau’s SPM to correct for the underreporting of SNAP and other means-tested benefits in the underlying survey data. We find that SNAP removed 8.4 million people from poverty in 2015, reducing the poverty rate from 15.4 percent to 12.8 percent (a reduction of 17 percent). SNAP reduced the poverty gap (the aggregate amount of additional income required to remove all poor families from poverty) by $35 billion (21 percent) in 2015. (Author abstract) 

  • Individual Author: Newville, David; Ain, Joanna
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    Last week, the House of Representatives passed a Farm Bill with damaging changes to SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) that could reduce or eliminate nutritional benefits for two million Americans. One critical change in the House bill is the elimination of states' ability to increase or remove savings penalties (sometimes known as asset limits), which require families to spend down their savings to a specified level before they can receive SNAP benefits. The Senate version of the bill does the opposite by protecting SNAP, including states’ abilities to increase or remove savings penalties. To provide a better understanding of what savings penalties are and why they matter, Prosperity Now has released a new policy brief, Savings Penalties Push Families Deeper into Poverty, detailing how savings penalties in public benefits programs, including SNAP, force low-income households to choose between saving for their future and getting supports for their basic needs today. (Author introduction)

    Last week, the House of Representatives passed a Farm Bill with damaging changes to SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) that could reduce or eliminate nutritional benefits for two million Americans. One critical change in the House bill is the elimination of states' ability to increase or remove savings penalties (sometimes known as asset limits), which require families to spend down their savings to a specified level before they can receive SNAP benefits. The Senate version of the bill does the opposite by protecting SNAP, including states’ abilities to increase or remove savings penalties. To provide a better understanding of what savings penalties are and why they matter, Prosperity Now has released a new policy brief, Savings Penalties Push Families Deeper into Poverty, detailing how savings penalties in public benefits programs, including SNAP, force low-income households to choose between saving for their future and getting supports for their basic needs today. (Author introduction)

  • Individual Author: Greenberg, Erica
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    Free and reduced-price lunch status has long been used as a proxy measure for student poverty. This brief offers a short history of school lunch and its recent decline as a measure of economic disadvantage. It then provides a primer on “direct certification,” the most promising alternative, which links student enrollment with public benefits data to directly assess students’ household income. Under direct certification, eligibility rules, application, and eligibility determination procedures of public benefits programs take on new importance in affecting counts of low-income students. Better understanding of direct certification can help stakeholders in education make sense of new measures of student poverty and use them in line with intended policy and research goals. (Author abstract)

     

    Free and reduced-price lunch status has long been used as a proxy measure for student poverty. This brief offers a short history of school lunch and its recent decline as a measure of economic disadvantage. It then provides a primer on “direct certification,” the most promising alternative, which links student enrollment with public benefits data to directly assess students’ household income. Under direct certification, eligibility rules, application, and eligibility determination procedures of public benefits programs take on new importance in affecting counts of low-income students. Better understanding of direct certification can help stakeholders in education make sense of new measures of student poverty and use them in line with intended policy and research goals. (Author abstract)

     

  • Individual Author: Bauer, Lauren; Schanzenbach, Diane Whitmore; Shambaugh, Jay
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    Basic assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) and Medicaid ensure families have access to food and medical care when they are low-income. Some policymakers at the federal and state levels intend to add new work requirements to SNAP and Medicaid. In this paper, we analyze those who would be impacted by an expansion of work requirements in SNAP and an introduction of work requirements into Medicaid. We characterize the types of individuals who would face work requirements, describe their labor force experience over 24 consecutive months, and identify the reasons why they are not working if they experience a period of unemployment or labor force nonparticipation. We find that the majority of SNAP and Medicaid participants who would be exposed to work requirements are attached to the labor force, but that a substantial share would fail to consistently meet a 20 hours per week–threshold. Among persistent labor force nonparticipants, health issues are the predominant reason given for not working. There may be...

    Basic assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) and Medicaid ensure families have access to food and medical care when they are low-income. Some policymakers at the federal and state levels intend to add new work requirements to SNAP and Medicaid. In this paper, we analyze those who would be impacted by an expansion of work requirements in SNAP and an introduction of work requirements into Medicaid. We characterize the types of individuals who would face work requirements, describe their labor force experience over 24 consecutive months, and identify the reasons why they are not working if they experience a period of unemployment or labor force nonparticipation. We find that the majority of SNAP and Medicaid participants who would be exposed to work requirements are attached to the labor force, but that a substantial share would fail to consistently meet a 20 hours per week–threshold. Among persistent labor force nonparticipants, health issues are the predominant reason given for not working. There may be some subset of SNAP and Medicaid participants who could work, are not working, and might work if they were threatened with the loss of benefits. This paper adds evidence to a growing body of research that shows that this group is very small relative to those who would be sanctioned under the proposed policies who are already working or are legitimately unable to work. (Author abstract)

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