Who would be affected?

The term “able-bodied adults without dependents” is at the heart of the new SNAP rule. In theory, this classification is supposed to apply to people without disabilities who are not responsible for children. However, people who have disabilities and/or are caretakers are often caught up in this group. There are two main reasons that happens.

First, the rule’s definition of “able-bodied” only includes disabled people who qualify for Social Security Insurance (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). People who are on waiting lists for SSI or SSDI (it takes 600 days on average to get a hearing), have disabilities or chronic illnesses but don’t receive federal disability benefits, or lack a formal diagnosis are all considered “able-bodied” and thus at risk of losing SNAP regardless of their actual health status.

Second, “adults without dependents” leaves out people who are caretakers but do not claim children on tax filings. People caring for extended family, chosen family, or noncustodial children would all be considered people “without dependents,” regardless of what caregiving responsibilities they shoulder and how that impacts their ability to work outside the home.