Click on each Public Law (PL) number to see a summary of the laws. Information concerning each Public Law is also located at the Library of Congress.
Electronic Benefit Transfer Interoperability and Portability Act of 2000
PL 106-171 (Feb. 11, 2000)
- Amends the Food Stamp Act of 1977 to provide for a national standard of interoperability and portability applicable to electronic food stamp benefit transactions.
- Requires systems that provide for the electronic issuance, use, and redemption of coupons in the form of electronic benefit transfer cards to be interoperable, and food stamp benefits to be made portable, among all states not later than Oct. 1, 2002.
- States that costs of achieving interoperability and portability shall not be borne by participating wholesale or retail food concerns.
- Directs the Secretary of Agriculture to promulgate regulations not later than 210 days after enactment of this law, that: (1) adopt a national standard based upon a standard used by the majority of states; and (2) require any electronic benefit transfer contract (as defined by this Act) entered into 30 days or more after promulgation of such regulations be in accordance with the national standard.
- Exempts the transfer of benefits under an EBT contract before the expiration of the term of the contract if the contract: 1) is entered into before the date that is 30 days after the regulations are promulgated; and 2)expires after Oct. 1, 2002 from interoperability and portability requirements.
- Authorizes the Secretary to provide a requesting state with a temporary deadline waiver based upon unusual technological barriers.
- Directs the Secretary to allow a state using a smart card food stamp delivery system to continue such system after Oct. 1, 2002 until a technological method is available for electronic benefit transfer card interoperability.
- Secretary to pay 100 percent of the costs incurred by a state agency for switching and settling interstate transactions: 1) incurred after the date of enactment and before Oct. 1, 2002, if the state uses the standard of interoperability and portability adopted by a majority of state agencies; and 2)incurred after September 30, 2002, if the state uses the uniform national standard of interoperability and portability adopted by a majority of state agencies. Total amount paid to state agencies for each fiscal year not to exceed $500,000.
- Not later than one year after the date of enactment of this act, directs the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a study of alternatives for handling food stamp benefit electronic transactions, including use of a single switching hub.
Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2001
PL 106-387 (Oct. 28, 2000)
- Food Stamp Employment and Training (E&T) programs are appropriated $194 million, a reduction of $25 million from the amount authorized in section 16(h)(1)(a) of the Food Stamp Act. (NOTE: This reduction will not affect states' FY 2001 E&T spending because carry-over funds from past years are available to make up the difference.)
- For FY 2001 the Maximum Excess Shelter Expense Deductions are increased to $340, $543, $458, $399, and $268 per month, respectively, for the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. For FY 2002 and beyond, the deduction will be as adjusted to reflect changes for the 12-month period ending the preceding November 30 in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.
- The Food Stamp Vehicle Allowance is changed to allow states to substitute their TANF vehicle rules for the food stamp vehicle rules, where doing so would result in a lower attribution of resources.
- The amount of the FY 2001 block grant to Puerto Rico is changed from the $1,301,000,000 authorized in section 19(a)(1)(A) of the Food Stamp Act to $1,268,000,000, as adjusted by the change in the Food at Home series of the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, for the most recent period ending in June. For FY 2002, the grant will equal the FY 2001 amount, as adjusted by the percentage by which the thrifty food plan is adjusted for FY 2002.
- The Act appropriates $8 million which the Department can use to continue and expand its efforts to improve access to the FSP and make eligible individuals aware of vital nutrition assistance. An additional $2 million is appropriated for nutrition education initiatives aimed at helping FSP participants expand their nutritional knowledge, make healthy food choices, and develop thrifty food shopping skills.
2001 Supplemental Appropriations
PL 107-20 (July 24, 2001)
- Rescinded $3 million from the E&T appropriation available under PL 106–387.
- Rescinded $39.5 million from prior year funds available under section 16(h)(1) of the Food Stamp Act of 1977 to carry out the Employment and Training program.
Agriculture, Rural Development, Food And Drug Administration, And Related Agencies Appropriations Act 2002
PL 107-76 (Nov. 28, 2001)
- Prevented USDA from using any money appropriated in this bill for coupons until EBT was fully operational.
Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002
PL 107-171 (May 13, 2002)
- Effective Oct. 1, 2002, allows states, at their option, to treat legally obligated child support payments to a non-household member as an income exclusion rather than a deduction (as provided in current law). It requires USDA to establish simplified procedures that states, at their option, could use to determine the amount of child support paid by a household, including information from a state's child support enforcement agency.
- Effective Oct. 1, 2002, allows a state option to exclude certain types of income that are not counted under the state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance or Medicaid programs. Under this provision, states are allowed to exclude: educational assistance not counted under Medicaid; state complementary assistance not counted under section 1931 of Medicaid; and any type of income not counted under section 1931 of Medicaid or TANF except for wages or salaries, benefits from major assistance programs, regular payments from a government source (such as unemployment benefits or general assistance), worker's compensation, child support payments, or other types as determined by USDA through regulations that are essential to fair determinations of food stamp eligibility and benefit amounts.
- Effective Oct. 1, 2002, replaces the current, fixed standard deduction with a deduction that varies according to household size and is adjusted annually for cost-of-living increases. Larger households will receive a higher deduction than they currently do. For households in the 48 contiguous states and DC, AK, HI and VI, it sets the deduction at 8.31 percent of the applicable net income limit based on household size. No household would receive an amount less than the current deduction ($134, $229, $189 and $118 respectively) or more than the standard deduction for a household of six. Guamanian households receive a slightly higher deduction.
- Effective Oct. 1, 2002, allows states to simplify the Standard Utility Allowance (SUA) if the states elect to use the SUA rather than actual utility costs for all households. For these states, it eliminates the current requirement to prorate the SUA when households share living quarters and it allows the use of the SUA for households in public housing with shared meters that are only charged for excess utility costs.
- Effective Oct. 1, 2002, allows states to use a standard deduction from income of $143 per month for homeless households with some shelter expenses.
- Effective Oct. 1, 2002, allows states to disregard reported changes in deductions during certification periods except for changes associated with a new residence or earned income until the next recertification.
- Effective Oct. 1, 2002, increases the resource limit for households with a disabled member from $2,000 to $3,000 consistent with the limit for households with an elderly member. It also provides a state option to exclude certain types of resources that the state does not count for TANF or Medicaid (section 1931). Under this option, states could not exclude cash, licensed vehicles, amounts in financial institutions that are readily available, or other resources as determined by USDA through regulations that are essential to fair determinations of food stamp eligibility and benefit amounts.
- Effective the date of enactment, allows USDA to approve alternate methods for issuing food stamp benefits during disasters when reliance on electronic benefit transfer systems (EBT) is impracticable.
- Effective Oct. 1, 2002, allows states to extend semi-annual reporting of changes to all households not exempt from periodic reporting. Under current regulations, this option is limited to households with earnings. For states choosing the option, households required to report less often than every three months would only have to report when income exceeds the gross income limits.
- Effective Oct. 1, 2002, eliminates the requirement that Federal costs for electronic benefit transfer systems cannot exceed the costs of the paper systems they replace.
- Effective the date of enactment, requires USDA to submit a report not later than Oct. 1, 2003 to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees that:
- describes the status of EBT systems in each state;
- specifies the number of vendors each state has contracted with for EBT systems;
- specifies the number of states with multiple vendor contracts;
- provides information on states in which EBT is not operational by Oct. 1, 2002;
- describes the issues faced by states that have awarded a second EBT contract during the 2-year period prior to the report and the steps taken by the state to address those problems;
- describes the issues faced by states that plan to award a second EBT contract within the 2-year period from the date of the report and the strategies the states are planning to address those issues;
- describes initiatives being considered by USDA, retailers, vendors, and advocacy groups to address any outstanding EBT issues;
- examines advances in electronic benefit delivery during the 5- to 10-year period from the date of the report including access at farmers' markets, increased use of transaction data to identify and prosecute fraud, and fostering increased competition among vendors.
- Effective Oct. 1, 2002, requires USDA to conduct pilot projects to test the feasibility of issuing standardized rather than individual allotments to residents of small group facilities for the disabled, shelters for battered women/children or the homeless, and drug or alcoholic treatment centers. It requires USDA at the conclusion of the projects to determine whether alternative procedures should be extended nationwide and to notify the House and Senate Agriculture Committees of its determination. If USDA makes a determination not to extend procedures nationwide, pilot projects are to be terminated within a reasonable amount of time.
- Effective the date of enactment, allows group homes and institutions to redeem EBT benefits directly through banks in areas where EBT has been implemented rather than going through authorized wholesalers or other retailers.
- Effective 18 months following enactment, requires state agencies that have a Web site to post applications on these sites in the same languages that the state uses for its written applications.
- Effective Oct. 1, 2002, permits states to extend from the current 3 months up to 5 months the period of time households may receive transitional food stamp benefits when they lose TANF cash assistance. Benefits would be equal to the amount received by the household prior to the termination of TANF with adjustments in income for the loss of TANF and, at state option, information from another program in which the household participates. A household would not be eligible for the extension if it was losing TANF cash assistance because of a sanction, was disqualified from the Food Stamp Program, or is in a category of households designated by the state as ineligible for transitional benefits. The provision also extends any certification period through the end of the transitional period.
- Effective Oct. 1, 2002, authorizes up to $5 million of appropriated funds for each of fiscal years 2003 through 2007 to pay the full costs for projects to improve access for food stamp eligible households or to develop and implement simplified application and eligibility systems. Projects may consist of: coordinating food stamp application and eligibility processes with other assistance programs; establishing alternative methods of applying that use the telephone and internet or other system improvements; developing materials and other resources to increase program access; improving methods for informing eligible households about the program; or other activities that USDA determines are appropriate.
- Effective the date of enactment, allows the Secretary to use mailing methods other than certified mail when notifying retailers of adverse action so long as the method provides evidence of delivery.
- Effective Oct. 1, 2002, makes substantial changes to the QC system that measures states' payment accuracy in issuing food stamp benefits. Sanctions are limited to states that are not penalized with a 95 percent probability that their error rate exceeds 105 percent of the national average for two consecutive years. If a state's error rate exceeds the threshold for two years in a row, a liability will be established that is equal to 10 percent of the cost of errors above 6 percent. Of that amount, USDA may waive all or part, and/or require up to 50 percent to be reinvested in corrective action programs and/or require up to 50 percent to be set aside for possible recovery in the third year. If a state's error rate exceeds the threshold for three consecutive years, the state is responsible for paying the second year at-risk amount and USDA will again require up to 50 percent of the liability amount to be reinvested in corrective action programs and up to 50 percent be set aside for possible recovery in the following year if the state again exceeds the threshold for that year.
- Effective the date of enactment, extends the date for completing QC reviews and resolving state/federal differences to May 31st and extends the date for announcing QC error rates to June 30th.
- Effective the date of enactment, for FY 2003, the current enhanced funding system that is based on error rates is replaced with a performance system that will award $48 million in bonuses each year to states with high or improved performance for actions taken to correct errors, reduce the rates of error, improve eligibility determinations, or other activities that demonstrate effective administration as determined by USDA.
- Authorizes for each of fiscal years 2002 through 2007 $90 million for unrestricted E&T funding and up to $20 million in additional funding for states that pledge to offer work slots to unemployed, childless adults who are subject to the 3-month time limit for food stamps. The provision also eliminates: 1) the requirement that 80 percent of unmatched funds must be used for able-bodied adults with dependents; 2) the requirement that states maintain their 1996 E&T funding levels to access additional funds; and 3) the limits on the amounts that USDA will reimburse states for work activities. prior year funds are rescinded on enactment. Effective on enactment, it eliminates the $25 per month cap that USDA will reimburse states for transportation and other work costs incurred by participants in E&T programs.
- Effective Oct. 1, 2002, reauthorizes Food Stamp and Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations programs for a 5-year period from FY 2003 through FY 2007.
- Effective the date of enactment, clarifies that USDA may exercise its waiver authority to conduct Food Stamp Program research through grants to public or private organizations.
- Effective the date of enactment, consolidates the block grant for Puerto Rico and American Samoa beginning in FY 2003 and provides $1.401 billion in consolidated funding for FY 2003 with annual adjustments through FY 2007 based on the thrifty food plan. Of these funds, 99.6 percent is available to Puerto Rico to pay 100 percent of the costs to provide nutrition assistance under its program and 50 percent of the administrative costs and 0.4 percent is available for American Samoa to pay 100 percent of costs for its nutrition assistance program. Puerto Rico may spend not more than $6 million of its FY 2002 funds in FY 2002 or FY 2003 on automation projects. Beginning in FY 2002, both Puerto Rico and American Samoa may carry over not more than 2 percent of their funding from one fiscal year to the next.
- Restores food stamp eligibility to qualified aliens who are otherwise eligible AND who:
- effective FY 2003 are receiving disability benefits regardless of date of entry (current law requires them to have been in the country on 8/22/96);
- effective 2004 and beyond are under 18 regardless of date of entry (current law limits eligibility to children who were in the country on 8/22/96); or
- effective April 2003 have lived in the U.S. continuously for 5 years as a qualified alien beginning on date of entry.
- Effective FY 2004, the provision also eliminates the deeming requirements for immigrant children that count the income and resources of the immigrant's sponsor when determining food stamp eligibility and benefit amounts for the immigrant child. In a conforming amendment, it also eliminates the 3-year deeming requirements under section 5(i) of the Food Stamp Act for children.
Consolidated Appropriations Act 2004
PL 108-199 (Jan. 23, 2004)
- Grants a $3 billion benefit reserve for the first time.
Consolidated Appropriations Act 2005
PL 108-447 (Dec. 8, 2004)
- Excludes from household income special pay (hazardous duty or combat pay) received by military personnel deployed to a designated combat zone if that pay was not received immediately prior to serving in the combat zone. This was part of the President's budget request.
- Grants a $3 billion benefit reserve.
Agriculture, Rural Development, Food And Drug Administration, And Related Agencies Appropriations Act 2006
PL 109–97 (Nov. 10, 2005)
- Continued the exclusion of special pay received by military personnel deployed to a designated combat zone if that pay was not received immediately prior to serving in the combat zone. This was part of the President's budget request.
- Grants a $3 billion benefit reserve.
Returned Americans Protection Act of 2006
PL 109-250 (July 27, 2006)
- Allows state Food Stamp agencies to access the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH) to verify income and wage information for food stamp recipients.
Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (FECA)
PL 110-246 (June 18, 2008)
Provisions states must implement on Oct. 1, 2008:
- Section 4001: Renaming the Food Stamp Act and Program
- Section 4101: Excluding Certain Military Combat Payments from Income
- Section 4102: Raising the Standard Deduction
- Section 4103: Eliminating the Dependent Care Deduction Cap
- Section 4104(a): Indexing Asset Limit
- Section 4104(b): Excluding Education and Retirement Accounts from Resources
- Section 4107: Increasing the Minimum Benefit
- Section 4113: Clarification of Split Issuance
- Section 4114: Accrual of Benefits
- Section 4115(a): Issuance and Use of Program Benefits
- Section 4122: Funding of Employment and Training Programs
Optional Provisions states may implement on Oct. 1, 2008:
- Section 4105: State Option to Expand Simplified Reporting
- Section 4106: Transitional Benefits Option
- Section 4108: State Option for Employment, Training and Job Retention
- Section 4119: State Option for telephonic Signature
Provisions that are not to be implemented until Federal Rulemaking occurs:
- Section 4112: Technical Clarification Regarding Eligibility
- Section 4116: Review of Major Changes in Program Design
- Section 4121: Preservation of Access and Payment Accuracy
- Section 4131: Eligibility Disqualification
- Section 4132: Civil Penalties and Disqualification of Retail Food Stores and Wholesale Food Concerns
- Section 4133: Major Systems Failures
- Section 4141: Pilot Projects to Evaluation Health and Nutrition Promotion
- Section 4142: Study on Comparable Access tp Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for Puerto Rico
Provisions that require no new state action:
- Section 4111: Nutrition Education
- Section 4117: CR Compliance
- Section 4118: Codification of Access Rules
- Section 4120: Privacy Protections