AUSTIN, Texas -- AARP Texas is pleased to join the Feeding Texas network, a group of 21 food banks across Texas, in a virtual day of advocacy on Wednesday, March 8, to call on state legislators to update the SNAP Vehicle Asset Test.
Eligibility for SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is primarily based on income and family size. Texas also chooses to use a Vehicle Asset Test, which places a limit on the value of the vehicles that a family may own and still qualify for the program.
“No family should lose their ability to put food on the table because of inflation in the car market, but that is exactly what is happening in Texas,” said Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas. “Used cars significantly increased in value in the past year due to inflation and supply chain challenges. As a result, many families that were previously approved for SNAP have had their benefits taken away.”
Sen. Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso) and Rep. Ryan Guillen (R-Rio Grande City) have filed companion bills in the Senate (SB 273) and House (House Bill 1287) that would index the SNAP Vehicle Asset Test to inflation to better reflect today’s car values.
Current limits are stagnant at $15,000 for the first vehicle and $4,650 for any additional vehicle that a family owns. These limits have not been updated since 2001 for the primary car and 1974 for additional cars.
“SNAP is our nation’s first line of defense against hunger,” said Kathy Green, state and federal advocacy manager for AARP Texas. “It’s essential that the program not have unnecessary barriers to qualify. Modifying the Vehicle Asset Test would help more Texas families access these needed benefits.”
In Texas, 11,615 households were denied SNAP due to the Vehicle Asset Test in 2019. In 2022, the total number of rejections grew to 54,740, nearly five times as many denials despite little change in the total number of SNAP participants.
Because SNAP is a federal program, Texas will incur no additional costs for updating the Vehicle Asset Test policy.