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June 6 -- The Food and Nutrition Service, USDA, invites interested persons to submit written comments to OMB by July 6, 2023 regarding the proposed data collection Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: State Options.

The Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, Public Law 110–246, section 4001–4002, amended the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to rename the Food Stamp Program the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The Act establishes SNAP as a means-tested program under which needy households may apply for and receive assistance to supplement their ability to purchase food. The Act specifies national eligibility standards utility allowance (SUAs) and imposes certain administrative requirements on State agencies in administering the program. The program is directly administered by State welfare agencies, which are responsible for determining the eligibility of applicant households and issuing benefits to those households entitled to benefits under the Act.

FNS will collect and approve information from State agencies on how the various SNAP develop, update, change and implement options will be determined for SUAs for household. The information collected will be used by FNS to establish quality control reviews, standards and self-employment costs.
 
SNAP regulations at 7 CFR 273.9(d)(6)(iii) allow State agencies to develop SUAs to use in place of the actual utility costs incurred by a household. When choosing this option, State agencies are required to review and adjust SUAs annually to reflect changes in the costs of utilities. States must provide the amounts of the standards to FNS when they change, and submit methodologies used to FNS for approval when they are updated or changed.
  
SNAP regulations at 7 CFR 273.11(b) establish procedures for calculating the costs of producing self-employment income. Program rules allow State agencies to create the methodology for offsetting the costs of producing self-employment income, as long as the procedure does not increase program costs. States must receive annual approval from FNS to use these methodologies and most State agencies provide methodology information on written letterhead and submit it via email. Once approved by FNS, States can use these methodologies to determine net self-employment income for SNAP eligibility purposes.
 
SNAP regulations at 7 CFR 273.9(d)(6)(iii) and 7 CFR 273.11(b) require all 53 State agencies to keep and maintain one record of the information gathered and submitted to FNS for SUA and self-employment options. States store this record, and it serves as a baseline for future changes.  States use different systems to store this information.
 
FNS estimates that 53 State agencies will submit two responses each, which includes States' review of their preliminary SUA amounts and their final SUA amounts. In prior renewals, FNS did not delineate between these two submissions, but considered them part of one process. In this renewal, FNS chose to more clearly reflect the two responses States submit and adjust its estimate accordingly.

FNS asks States to submit preliminary SUA amounts voluntarily as part of their annual SUA update process. By collecting preliminary SUA estimates ahead of final annual updates, FNS can plan for any significant changes in SUA amounts which may considerably impact SNAP benefit amounts.

In FY 2022, FNS received final SUA amounts from all 53 State agencies. FNS did not collect preliminary SUA amounts in FY 2021 or FY 2020. However, in the past three years that FNS collected preliminary numbers, most States submitted these amounts, and 52 out of 53 State agencies submitted preliminary SUA amounts in FY 2022. For the purpose of this renewal, FNS estimates that all 53 State agencies will submit preliminary amounts in addition to their final SUA amounts, increasing the total annual responses to 106 (53 State agencies × 2 responses each).
 
Based on information provided in the Fourteenth Edition of the SNAP State Options Report, 23 out of 53 State agencies have already incorporated a methodology for determining the cost of doing business in self-employment cases, which was the basis of the previous burden estimate. Over the next three years this collection covers, FNS estimates that five (5) State agencies will establish a new methodology for offsetting the cost of producing self-employment income, either for the first time or as an update to their current methodology. This estimate is based on consultations with three (3) FNS regional offices.

SNAP State Options Report webpage: https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/waivers/state-options-report
FNS submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202303-0584-003 Click IC List for information collection instrument, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-11940

For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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