parent, who faces significant time pressures as a result of his or her employment status. This pressure could be relieved somewhat by an earned income deduction that gave employed recipients a larger benefit that could be used to purchase more partially prepared foods, which in turn could shorten meal preparation time. At the same time, out-of-pocket expenses on transportation and clothing for work typically are higher for the employed. It is unclear whether the 20 percent earned income deduction is adequate to address all of these additional expenses.

Likewise, the medical deduction is allowed only for limited populations of the elderly and disabled, for out-of-pocket medical expenses. In light of the rising cost of health care and the increasing percentage of the nonelderly population with chronic diseases, coupled with reductions in employer-provided insurance and uncertainties associated with implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010,13 the impact of the burden of out-of-pocket medical costs on the purchasing power of SNAP allotments for the nonelderly and nondisabled is unknown.

The committee drew two conclusions from these findings. First, raising the shelter deduction cap to reflect geographic differences in housing more accurately would likely decrease the net income of SNAP households and thereby increase the amount of the allotment available for food purchases. Second, further evidence is needed on the effectiveness of the current earned income deduction in addressing the time costs of food preparation for working SNAP participants, as well as on whether the deduction for out-of-pocket medical expenses should be extended to all SNAP units regardless of age and disability status.

The currently available secondary and administrative data infrastructure is likely inadequate to address many of the research needs identified above. Some will require multisite, multiyear demonstration projects, coupled with rigorous evaluation, to obtain the necessary data, while others will require new survey data, especially on the development of a regional price index to provide a better understanding of geographic differences in the cost of foods.


Andreyeva, T., F. J. Chaloupka, and K. D. Brownell. 2011. Estimating the potential of taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages to reduce consumption and generate revenue. Preventive Medicine 52(6):413-416.

Andreyeva, T. J. Leudicke, K. E. Henderson, and A. S. Tripp. 2012. Refreshment beverage choices of SNAP and WIC participants: Analysis of grocery store scanner data. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 43(4):411-418.


13The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Public Law 111-148 (March 23, 2010).

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