How the debt-ceiling bill will affect SNAP benefits

Much-debated work requirements will change who can receive assistance.
article cover

Jetcityimage/Getty Images

· 3 min read

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Our free retail newsletter delivers insights to keep retail leaders and decision-makers up to date.

President Biden signed the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, a bill to lift the debt ceiling, on Saturday, a move which has major implications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Previously, able-bodied adults aged 18–50 without dependents that did not work at least 20 hours per week could receive SNAP benefits for three months within a 36-month period. The new bill expands these requirements to recipients aged 50–54 without disabilities or dependents through 2030. However, veterans, homeless individuals, and those 18–24 who aged out of foster care are now exempt from these requirements, per the bill.

The White House said it anticipates the number of people subject to these requirements will likely remain about the same given the new exemptions. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that ~750,000 older adults could be impacted by this change and are at risk of losing benefits as a result. A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis released on May 30 found 78,000 people (an increase of 0.2% of SNAP recipients) would gain benefits between 2025 and 2030 due to these changes.

  • The CBO report also found the changes will actually boost federal SNAP spending by $2.1 billion from 2023 to 2033.

Retail price: The continuing fight over SNAP comes as pandemic-driven emergency allotments expired in the remaining 35 states in March, cutting $90 per month for the average individual and at least $95 a month per household, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which has also impacted retailers like Kroger and Walmart, as many shoppers now have much less money to spend. Beyond the bill’s impact on consumers, The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), noted the effects it could have on the grocery industry.

“SNAP is not only vital in helping put food on the table, it creates good, sustainable jobs in farms, food processing plants, distribution centers, and grocery stores in every state and congressional district,” Marc Perrone, international president of UFCW, said in a statement. “Any change to this program, including additional work requirements, is a direct threat to these essential jobs.”

Looking ahead: SNAP has been a major issue in the lead-up to the 2023 Farm Bill, as Republican senators push for cuts and tighter requirements for the program, which the latest CBO forecast estimated would cost $1.2 trillion between 2023 and 2032.

Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, who chairs the Senate subcommittee on food and nutrition, specialty crops, organics, and research, said in a statement that he voted against the bill particularly because of its impact on SNAP, noting he “won’t give Republicans an opening to try and take food from more food-insecure Americans in Farm Bill negotiations later this year.”

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Our free retail newsletter delivers insights to keep retail leaders and decision-makers up to date.