Maine Implementing Asset Test for Food Stamps

Christine Rousselle
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Posted: Sep 19, 2015 9:32 AM
Maine Implementing Asset Test for Food Stamps

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) intends to prohibit childless homes with over $5,000 in assets from receiving food stamps. Maine is becoming the 15th state to require an asset test before a person can begin receiving state assistance.

From the Portland Press Herald:

The new rule – which will be the subject of a public hearing Oct. 6 in Augusta – would apply only to households with no children. About 225,000 Mainers receive food stamps, and some 8,600 of them would be affected by the rule, according to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. The rule would exempt equity in a home and a primary vehicle.

The agency didn’t have an estimate on how many of the 8,600 might fail the asset test and become ineligible for benefits. The cost of implementing the rule would be negligible and would not require additional staff or money, said DHHS spokesman David Sorensen.

The rule would take effect sometime after the public hearing, with no legislative vote required.

Food stamps are an income-based program, and people who apply must disclose their earnings. Under the proposed rule, applicants would have to make additional disclosures and report their bank balances and ownership of specific assets, including snowmobiles, boats, motorcycles, Jet Skis, all-terrain vehicles, recreational vehicles and campers. Cash and the value of assets would be added together to determine whether the $5,000 threshold had been reached.

This makes sense. A person would still be allowed to have a house and a primary car--but I don't think it's asking too much for a person to sell an ATV, which is essentially a large toy, before the state starts helping someone buy food. When times are tough, sacrifices have to be made, and applying for welfare assistance should be a last resort.