WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) issued the following statement today after her bipartisan amendment to enhance veterans’ access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was accepted as part of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015. The amendment, cosponsored by Congressman Dan Benishek (R-MI), is based upon her legislation the Disabled Veterans Nutrition Fairness Act of 2013. It provides $1 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to assist veterans who have faced delays in receiving medical appointments at VA facilities.
“The ongoing revelations of serious dysfunction at the Veterans Administration make it clear the needs of veterans living on the edge are not being met. While the backlog at the VA has improved, nearly 600,000 veteran disability claims are still pending. Veterans who file their claims at the most backlogged regional offices are still averaging waits of more than 200 days,” said Congresswoman Speier. “Filing for SNAP under the disabled status can provide much-needed assistance with minimal cost. For a veteran with war-related mental or physical injuries, this small amount of help can make an enormous difference as more than 1.4 million of them are living below the poverty line and nearly 58,000 are homeless on a given night. Hungry veterans shouldn’t be forced to wait for benefits while their claims are pending.”
The amendment allocates $1 million to assist veterans with SNAP benefits while their claims are pending. Currently, disabled veterans are not considered disabled for the purposes of the SNAP program unless they are receiving veteran’s disability benefits and rated by the VA as having a service or non-service connected disability that is total or debilitating. Under this amendment, veterans on the waitlist will be able to apply for SNAP benefits under disabled status. The amendment does not make veterans automatically eligible for SNAP, but allows them to access benefits under the disabled designation, such as deducting medical expenses and using SNAP to purchase prepared meals.
View the video of Congresswoman Speier introducing the amendment here.