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Clarification on Characteristics of Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility Programs Memo

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DATE: Dec. 27, 2016
SUBJECT: Clarification on Characteristics of Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility Programs
TO: Regional Directors
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
All Regions
FROM: Lizbeth Silbermann
Director, Program Development Division
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) is a complex area of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) policy and the number of states using BBCE has grown since the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) last issued guidance on this topic. Given the nuances of this option and the dynamic nature of state operational policies and practices, FNS recognizes the potential for misapplication of policy as local programs adapt to changing circumstances. FNS is issuing this memorandum in an effort to clarify the characteristics of BBCE programs and the actions states must take to ensure compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements.

This policy memorandum reiterates policies outlined in earlier policy memoranda, most directly those issued on Sept. 30, 2009, Jan. 26, 2010, and Jan. 31, 2011. This policy memorandum is not applicable to traditional cash categorical eligibility programs, it is only applicable to BBCE.

BBCE shall only be conferred to SNAP households who have received or were authorized to receive non-cash benefits or services from a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or state Maintenance of Effort (MOE) program that meets SNAP statutory and regulatory requirements. To this end, FNS would like to direct state agencies’ attention to the following regulatory requirements, which are discussed in greater detail in the Questions and Answers Section.

  • The TANF/MOE program that confers eligibility for SNAP must meet one of the four TANF block grant goals. A program meeting goals three and four must have a gross income test of no more than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG).
  • If the TANF/MOE program is less than 50 percent funded by TANF/MOE funds, the state must report to FNS the program it is using in order for that program to confer eligibility for SNAP.
  • The TANF/MOE program that confers eligibility for SNAP must be a TANF/MOE program used to provide a non-cash benefit or service. The state agency must ensure that a household receives or is authorized to receive a non-cash benefit or service if it meets the program’s eligibility criteria.
  • The TANF/MOE program conferring eligibility must assess and verify the applicant’s information against its own eligibility standards in accordance with applicable laws and Federal regulations.
  • BBCE shall only be conferred to SNAP households who have been determined eligible for the TANF/MOE program and notified of that determination (i.e., receive or be authorized to receive the non-cash TANF/MOE benefit or service that confers eligibility).
  • It is the responsibility of the state agency to verify information needed to determine benefit levels regardless of the TANF/MOE program used to confer eligibility.

State agencies should review BBCE statutory and regulatory requirements in order to ensure that the TANF/MOE programs conferring eligibility in their state are consistent with SNAP regulations. The following Questions and Answers Section may be helpful to state agencies in this review.

Lizbeth Silbermann
Program Development Division


Page updated: April 07, 2023

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.