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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

SNAP and Disability

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss health care issues and  social services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Republicans say: Individuals with disabilities are exempt from the proposed work requirements, so none of them would lose SNAP benefits under the GOP plan.
Democrats say: The bill does not account for people with disabilities or chronic conditions who lack the necessary medical exemption or documentation, and, they say, those who can’t navigate the exemption process will lose SNAP benefits.
The facts: The bill specifically exempts from its work requirements those who are “medically certified as mentally or physically unfit for employment,” same as the current law.
[Henry] Connelly, a spokesman for Pelosi, said the bill’s new reporting requirements will present hurdles for “people with disabilities who struggle to meet that exemption already.” Obtaining this documentation can be very difficult, he said, “especially for those who want to avoid the risk of being permanently ‘unfit’ for work instead of temporarily, or live in states where they do not have access to health coverage or their state does not provide access to transportation, personal care services, employment services, and more.”
“It may seem simple to assert that ‘people with disabilities will be exempt,’ but converting such a statement into an effective policy process is complicated, expensive, and fundamentally flawed,” the group Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities wrote in a letter sent to the House Committee on Agriculture. “Many people with disabilities receive SNAP, but do not meet SNAP’s statutory definitions of ‘disability’ or have not been so identified. Under SNAP, states have no obligation to help people prove they are exempt, even if they have difficulty obtaining the necessary records or verification from a doctor.”
As an example, the group points to a survey of SNAP participants in Franklin County, Ohio, which found that among able-bodied adults without dependents — those subject to work requirements/time limits — a third self-reported “some type of physical or mental limitation.”
“New reporting requirements would create major hurdles to benefits,” the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities wrote. “Proposed new reporting requirements related to eligibility, employment and training, and time limits would be extremely difficult for many people with disabilities to navigate and comply with.”