USDA FNS Announces Income Verification Grant Opportunity

Grants Available to State SNAP Agencies for Use of Third Party Income Databases including The Work Number®

The United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (USDA-FNS) recently sent a memo to all 53 SNAP agencies announcing a non-competitive grant opportunity for states using third party income verification databases.

In December 2020, Congress appropriated $38 million for federal fiscal year 2021 for income verification improvement for SNAP. This grant opportunity makes approximately $20 million from the $38 million appropriated available to states. The purpose of these grants is to “gather information and data about how, when, and to what effect States use third party income, and the cost for those services.” The USDA-FNS specifically includes The Work Number from Equifax as a prime example of a third party income database used to verify such information. The application for the grant is open through 11:59 PM EDT on Friday, May 21, 2021.

According to the memo, states can use the grant funds to offset the cost of income verification services and provide evaluation data to FNS. This is part of the USDA-FNS’ process to evaluate how and when states use third party databases such as The Work Number in the verification process. 

Benefits of Third Party Income Verifications to States

The USDA-FNS memo discusses the benefits of using a third party database such as The Work Number to verify a household’s gross non-exempt income prior to certification for SNAP benefits. The verification requirement, which the FNS memo indicates is necessary in all cases, is often met by requesting the household provide gross income documentary evidence such as paystubs. USDA-FNS points out that using third party databases may:

  • increase efficiency and reduce burden for both states and households;
  • provide verification of earned income faster than the household can provide it; and
  • possibly identify income that the household did not report to the state, potentially improving payment accuracy.

Equifax Can Help

In a report by Equifax and the Government Business Council, state government and Equifax leaders showed the importance of timely and accurate data in eligibility decisions. Equifax encourages states to consider leveraging The Work Number for their full caseload and to support continuous monitoring of changes in circumstances or life changes. The Work Number and other solutions from Equifax can help: 

  • Gain access to employment and income data for over half of the U.S. non-farm payroll*;
  • improve time to benefit through automated verifications, reducing burdens on both agencies and SNAP households;
  • more efficient recertifications through individual or batch caseload processing;
  • identify and verify changes in income or employment during the certification period; and
  • help prevent improper payments by identifying whether a recipient continues to qualify for benefits.

At a time when demand is high for SNAP support, the federal grant program can help states fund full caseload support to access the data and processes that could help clear backlogs, which could accelerate the provision of service to individuals in need. 

For more information on eligibility criteria, reporting requirements, potential grant amounts by state, and how to apply, visit USDA’s website.  Contact Equifax now to learn more about how to take advantage of this opportunity and use The Work Number to help quickly and efficiently get benefits to those in need. 

*U.S. non-farm payroll is a term used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and is a statistic that represents how many people are employed in the U.S. in manufacturing, construction and goods companies. Non-farm payroll excludes farm workers, private household employees, or non-profit organization employees. Data referenced here is based on BLS and EFX data as of January 2021.