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In full transparency, the following is a media release from Sen. Ed Markey, who was elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. He is a Democrat. (stock photo) SOURCE publishes press release from elected leaders as a community service.


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WASHINGTON DC – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) led lawmakers in a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Thomas J. Vilsak and Social Security Administration (SSA) Acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi urging them to make Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) more accessible for Americans who receive or are applying to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

SSI recipients include low income people with disabilities and seniors at least 65 years old who often lack access to food security and nutrition, putting them at higher risk of health concerns such as lower cognitive function, depression, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, diabetes, or heart attacks.

Senator Markey, alongside his colleagues Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Angus King (I-Maine), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), is urging the Administration to bolster food security efforts as House Republicans are threatening to cut SNAP benefits for millions of low-income Americans.

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The lawmakers are requesting that USDA and SSA collaborate to expand the number of states participating in the Combine Application Program (CAP), a program that allows SSI applicants and recipients to complete a simplified application, ensure that people participating in CAP receive adequate SNAP benefits and make the SNAP screening application process easier for SSI recipients in states that do not participate in CAP. Eighteen states – including Massachusetts – have enacted CAP, but they hold the power to limit participation in SNAP and the number of benefits that applicants can receive, further undermining food security and public health.

In their letter to USDA and SSA, the lawmakers wrote, “To help alleviate food insecurity, SSA and USDA must create a seamless path to ensuring that SSI recipients and applicants can obtain SNAP benefits, one with minimal administrative burden. SNAP is the nation’s largest anti-hunger program and SNAP benefits translate to fewer people in poverty and a healthier population.” 

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The lawmakers continued, “For SSI recipients and applicants in the thirty-three states without a CAP program or for individuals who do not qualify for CAP, the SNAP application process can be difficult — marked by administrative burden, an inaccessible application progress, delays in receipt of benefits and the stigma that can accompany asking for help to pay for food. Applying for SSI alone can be a daunting process. […] No one should go hungry because of confusion about an application, problems with paperwork, or processing wait times.”

To alleviate food insecurity and lack of nutrition through better access to SNAP and SSI, the lawmakers requested that USDA and SSA respond to the following questions: 

1.     How many SNAP applications did SSA and its regional offices receive in 2020, 2021, and 2022?

2.     For each of those three years:

a.   How many SNAP applicants received SSI?

b.   How many CAP applicants did SSA send to SNAP state agencies to process, broken down by the participating CAP states?

c.    How many SNAP applications did SSA take for SSI recipients and send to the non-CAP states or for non-CAP eligible households?

d.   How many SNAP applicants in each state received SSI?

e.   What proportion of CAP recipients receive less than the maximum SNAP grant for their household size, and what is USDA’s protocol for determining CAP allotments?

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3.     What additional measures are USDA or SSA considering to improve SNAP access for SSI recipients and applicants?

a.   Is USDA or SSA considering changes to electronic systems to facilitate access to SNAP applications for SSI recipients or applicants, including creating mandatory fields for CAP states?

4.     How do USDA and SSA collaborate to communicate information about benefits to recipients and applicants?

5.     Are USDA or SSA considering expanding CAP or implementing other combined applications processes?

As part of the 2023 Fiscal Year omnibus spending package, Senator Markey was successful in inserting a provision to ensure that victims of “SNAP skimming” have their benefits repaid by requiring the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to promulgate regulations to reimburse individuals and families whose SNAP benefits were stolen.

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By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.