Senate Democrats Urge Biden Administration to Address Food Insecurity for Low-Income Individuals and Disabled Adults

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A dozen Senate Democrats are urging the Biden administration to take steps to help people facing food insecurity.

SNAP benefits
Lawmakers urged Biden administration to address food insecurity through SNAP benefits and SSI. (Photo: Tododisca)

Senate Democrats Sent a Letter to Address Food Insecurity

Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.) and 11 other Senate Democrats sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and acting Social Security Administration Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi on Tuesday, according to a published article in The Hill.

The lawmakers praised their agencies for their December announcement that they would strengthen their ties to connect benefits from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Additionally, lawmakers said also they are contacting the agencies to express concerns about SSI applicants and recipients’ abilities to obtain SNAP benefits. The senators said the U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) and Social Security Administration (SSA) should collaborate to increase the number of states participating in the Combine Application Program. This program allows SSI applicants and recipients to complete a simplified application for both SNAP and SSI.

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Applying for SNAP and SSI

The senators added that the agencies should ensure that people participating in the combined program have adequate SNAP benefits. Additionally, they suggested making the SNAP screening process easier for SSI recipients in states not participating in the combined program. The letter says that more than 30 states do not currently participate in the combined program.

The senators noted that the process of applying for SSI benefits on its own can be “daunting.” Any additional administrative burden could stop people from seeking SNAP benefits. Sen. Markey tweeted, “No one should go hungry because of confusion about an application, problems with paperwork, or processing wait times.”

The lawmakers requested answers to a series of questions about how USDA and SSA are working to improve access to SNAP for SSI applicants and recipients. They would like to receive answers or a staff briefing by Friday. The questions include how many SNAP applications the SSA and its regional offices received in 2020, 2021 and 2022 and how many SNAP applicants received SSI in each of those years.

They also asked what additional measures USDA or SSA are considering to improve SNAP access for SSI recipients and applicants, how the agencies collaborate to share information about benefits with people, and if they are considering expanding the combined application program.

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