Documentation

Overview

The SNAP Policy Database provides a central source of information on State policy choices over time. The database draws on policy information from a wide variety of sources, including surveys by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), national and State policy research organizations, State policy manuals, and news articles. Data are provided for all 50 States and the District of Columbia, for each month from January 1996 through December 2016.

The variables in the database cover eligibility criteria, recertification and reporting requirements, benefit issuance methods, availability of online applications, use of biometric technology, and coordination with other low-income assistance programs. Definitions and coding conventions for each variable in the data set are detailed below. 

Missing and imputed values

Missing values indicate that no information is available on State implementation of the policy in a specific time period. For example, information is not available through December 2016 for all policies. Missing values are denoted by a blank cell in the Excel worksheet. For variables that are derived primarily from FNS’s annual State Options Reports, ERS assumed that any policy changes between reports occurred at the midpoint of the two reports. These imputations were applied to the following variables: call, cap, compdq, oapp, vehexclall, vehexclamt, and vehexclone. Further details about the imputations are available upon request.

Identifying Variables

state_fips

Definition: The State FIPS (Federal Information Processing) code.

Coding description: range = 1, 56.

state_pc

Definition: The State postal code.

Coding description: string variable.

statename

Definition: Name of the State.

Coding description: string variable.

yearmonth

Definition: A six-digit integer (YYYYMM) indicating the month and year of the observation.

Coding description: range = 199601, 201612.

Policy Variables

bbce

Definition: The State uses broad-based categorical eligibility to increase or eliminate the asset test and/or to increase the gross income limit for virtually all SNAP applicants.

Coding description: range = 0, 1, where 0 = no and 1 = yes.

bbce_inclmt

Definition: The gross income limit as a percentage of the Federal poverty guidelines used under broad-based categorical eligibility.

Coding description: range = -9, 200, where -9 = no broad-based categorical eligibility.

bbce_asset

Definition: The State eliminates the asset test under broad-based categorical eligibility.

Coding description: range = -9, 1, where -9 = no broad-based categorical eligibility, 0 = asset limit is increased but not eliminated, and 1 = asset limit is eliminated.

bbce_a_amt

Definition: The dollar amount of the asset limit used under broad-based categorical eligibility (in thousands).

Coding description: range = -9, 25, where -9 = no broad-based categorical eligibility, or broad-based categorical eligibility eliminates the asset test.

bbce_a_veh

Definition: The State excludes at least one, but not all, vehicles in the household from the SNAP asset test used under broad-based categorical eligibility.

Coding description: range = -9, 1, where -9 = no broad-based categorical eligibility, or broad-based categorical eligibility eliminates the asset test.

bbce_hh

Definition: The State limits broad-based categorical eligibility to certain types of households.

Coding description: range = -9, 2, where -9 = no broad-based categorical eligibility, 0 = no limits on broad-based categorical eligibility, 1 = broad-based categorical eligibility limited to households with at least one dependent child, 2 = broad-based categorical eligibility limited to households with dependent care expenses.

bbce_sen

Definition: The State increases or eliminates the asset test for households with senior or disabled members under broad-based categorical eligibility only if their gross income is below a specified level.

Note: Households with senior or disabled members whose income is above the State-specified cut-off (typically 200 percent of the poverty line) do not qualify for broad-based categorical eligibility and would face the federal asset limit.

Coding description: range = -9, 1, where -9 = no broad-based categorical eligibility, 0 = no gross income limit for households with seniors or disabled members to qualify for broad-based categorical eligibility, 1 = gross income limit applied to households with seniors or disabled members to qualify for broad-based categorical eligibility.


call

Definition: The State operates call centers, and whether or not call centers service the entire State or select regions within the State.

Coding description: range = 0, 2, where 0 = no call centers, 1 = call centers available Statewide, and 2 = call centers available only in select parts of the State.


cap

Definition: The State operates a Combined Application Project for recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), so that SSI recipients are able to use a streamlined SNAP application process.

Coding description: range = 0, 1, where 0 = no and 1 = yes.


certearn0103

Definition: The proportion of SNAP units with earnings with 1-3 month recertification periods.

Coding description: range = 0, 0.93.

certearn0406

Definition: The proportion of SNAP units with earnings with 4-6 month recertification periods.

Coding description: range = 0, 1.

certearn0712

Definition: The proportion of SNAP units with earnings with 7-12 month recertification periods.

Coding description: range = 0, 1.

certearn1399

Definition: The proportion of SNAP units with earnings with 13+ month recertification periods.

Coding description: range = 0, 0.88.

certearnavg

Definition: The average certification period (in months) for SNAP units with earnings.

Coding description: range = 3.1, 15.2.

certearnmed

Definition: The median certification period (in months) for SNAP units with earnings.

Coding description: range = 2.8, 15.

certeld0103

Definition: The proportion of elderly SNAP units with 1-3 month recertification periods.

Coding description: range = 0, 0.38.

certeld0406

Definition: The proportion of elderly SNAP units with 4-6 month recertification periods.

Coding description: range = 0, 0.73.

certeld0712

Definition: The proportion of elderly SNAP units with 7-12 month recertification periods.

Coding description: range = 0, 1.

certeld1399

Definition: The proportion of elderly SNAP units with 13+ month recertification periods.

Coding description: range = 0, 1.

certeldavg

Definition: The average certification period (in months) for elderly SNAP units.

Coding description: range = 7.3, 50.9.

certeldmed

Definition: The median certification period (in months) for elderly SNAP units.

Coding description: range = 6, 48.

certnonearn0103

Definition: The proportion of nonearning, nonelderly SNAP units with 1-3 month recertification periods.

Coding description: range = 0, 0.70.

certnonearn0406

Definition: The proportion of nonearning, nonelderly SNAP units with 4-6 month recertification periods.

Coding description: range = 0, 0.95.

certnonearn0712

Definition: The proportion of nonearning, nonelderly SNAP units with 7-12 month recertification periods.

Coding description: range = 0, 1.

certnonearn1399

Definition: The proportion of nonearning, nonelderly SNAP units with 13+ month recertification periods.

Coding description: range = 0, 0.84.

certnonearnavg

Definition: The average certification period (in months) for nonearning, nonelderly SNAP units.

Coding description: range = 4.5, 20.8.

certnonearnmed

Definition: The median certification period (in months) for nonearning, nonelderly SNAP units.

Coding description: range = 3, 19.


ebtissuance

Definition: The proportion of the dollar value of all SNAP benefits that are accounted for by EBT (electronic benefit transfer).

Coding description: range = 0, 1.


faceini

Definition: The State has been granted a waiver to use a telephone interview in lieu of a face-to-face interview at initial certification, without having to document household hardship.

Coding description: range = 0, 1, where 0 = no waiver, 1 = waiver applies in at least part of the State.

facerec

Definition: The State has been granted a waiver to use a telephone interview in lieu of a face-to- face interview at recertification, without having to document household hardship.

Coding description: range = 0, 1, where 0 = no waiver, 1 = waiver applies in at least part of the State.


fingerprint

Definition: The State requires fingerprinting of  SNAP applicants.

Coding description: range = 0, 2, where 0 = no, 1 = fingerprints required Statewide, and 2 = fingerprints required in only select parts of the State.


noncitadultfull

Definition: All legal noncitizen adults (age 18-64) who satisfy other SNAP eligibility requirements such as income and asset limits are eligible for Federal SNAP benefits or State-funded food assistance.

Coding description: range = 0, 1, where 0 = no and 1 = yes.

noncitadultpart

Definition: Some, but not all, legal noncitizen adults (age 18-64) who satisfy other SNAP eligibility requirements such as income and asset limits are eligible for Federal SNAP benefits or State-funded food assistance.

Coding description: range = 0, 1, where 0 = no and 1 = yes.

noncitchildfull

Definition: All legal noncitizen children (age < 18) who satisfy other SNAP eligibility requirements such as income and asset limits are eligible for Federal SNAP benefits or State-funded food assistance.

Coding description: range = 0, 1, where 0 = no and 1 = yes.

noncitchildpart

Definition: Some, but not all, legal noncitizen children (age < 18) who satisfy other SNAP eligibility requirements such as income and asset limits are eligible for Federal SNAP benefits or State-funded food assistance.

Coding description: range = 0, 1, where 0 = no and 1 = yes.

nonciteldfull

Definition: All legal noncitizen elderly (age ≥ 65) who satisfy other SNAP eligibility requirements such as income and asset limits are eligible for Federal SNAP benefits or State-funded food assistance.

Coding description: range = 0, 1, where 0 = no and 1 = yes.

nonciteldpart

Definition: Some, but not all, legal noncitizen elderly (age ≥ 65) who satisfy other SNAP eligibility requirements such as income and asset limits are eligible for Federal SNAP benefits or State-funded food assistance.

Coding description: range = 0, 1, where 0 = no and 1 = yes.


oapp

Definition: The State allows households to submit a SNAP application online.

Coding description: range = 0, 2, where 0 = no, 1 = yes, Statewide, and 2 = yes, in only select parts of the State.


outreach

Definition: The sum of Federal, State, and grant outreach spending in nominal dollars (in thousands). 

Note: This variable is derived from annual data, spread across 12 months of the relevant fiscal year.

Coding description: range = 0, 1881.


reportsimple

Definition: For households with earnings, the State uses the simplified reporting option that reduces requirements for reporting changes in household circumstances.

Coding description: range = 0, 1, where 0 = no and 1 = yes.


transben

Definition: The State offers transitional SNAP benefits to families leaving the TANF or State‐funded cash assistance programs.

Coding description: range = 0, 1, where 0 = no and 1 = yes.


vehexclall

Definition: The State excludes all vehicles in the household from the SNAP asset test.

Note: When a State removes the asset test due to its adoption of broad-based categorical eligibility, vehexclall is assigned a value of 1.

Coding description: range = 0, 1, where 0 = no and 1 = yes.

vehexclamt

Definition: The State exempts an amount higher than the SNAP standard auto exemption (set at $4,650 in FY2018) from the fair market value to determine the countable resource value of a vehicle.

Note: When a State removes the asset test due to its adoption of broad-based categorical eligibility, vehexclamt is assigned a value of 0.

Coding description: range = 0, 1, where 0 = no and 1 = yes.

vehexclone

Definition: The State excludes at least one, but not all, vehicles in the household from the SNAP asset test.

Note: When a State removes the asset test due to its adoption of broad-based categorical eligibility, vehexclone is assigned a value of 0.

Coding description: range = 0, 1, where 0 = no and 1 = yes.