Striking a Balance: Examining SNAP Benefit and Eligibility Parameters for Low-Income Households

Prepared for
U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides eligible participants with a monthly benefit amount that, together with their own resources, is intended to allow them access to a healthy diet. Benefit levels typically vary depending on household size, income, expenses, and other factors. This project involves assessing whether the current eligibility requirements and benefits for SNAP are adequate given the real costs that low-income households incur.

The project has three major objectives:

  • Determine the share that various types of expenses account for in low-income households’ monthly budgets
  • Examine how these shares vary for demographic, economic, and geographic subgroups
  • Assess how well eligibility and benefit parameters capture the real costs low-income households incur

The analysis is being conducted using existing data, including the 2014 Consumer Expenditure Survey and the 2014 SNAP Quality Control data file. The study employs descriptive and multivariate analysis methods.

Mathematica is a subcontractor to Decision Demographics.