The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) today announced strategies to address eligibility qualifications for social service programs offered by DHHR.
Currently, in West Virginia, low-income families may qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which help cover the cost of basic necessities such as food. However, as a family works toward self-sufficiency and household earnings increase above the official poverty level, that same family may lose eligibility for benefits, despite continued financial need. This is known as the Cliff Effect.
DHHR is currently working to implement three separate strategies to address the Cliff Effect in its benefit programs:
- Increase the gross income limit for the SNAP eligibility from 130% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 200% FPL. This will allow more working and married families to maintain benefits without risk of benefit loss due to modest increases in their household income.
- Act only on changes that would increase SNAP benefits during the 12-month certification period. This will allow working and married families to accurately report increases in household income without the threat of immediate benefit loss.
- Provide a Transitional Benefit Alternative (TBA) for families leaving the TANF program. This will provide up to five months of SNAP benefits at a level equal to the amount the household received prior to TANF termination, with adjustments for the loss of TANF income.
DHHR’s Bureau for Children and Families is working with its federal partners at the US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Services (USDA-FNS) to obtain the required approval to move forward with these changes to West Virginia’s administration of the SNAP program.
“DHHR is committed to empowering individuals and families as they work to achieve self-sufficiency,” said Jeremiah Samples, Deputy Secretary of DHHR. “With implementation of these changes, income limits will be increased so that more working families will be eligible for SNAP.”