Got a $15K Car in Michigan? No Food Stamps for You

State's decision to check assets bucks national trend
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2011 8:52 AM CDT
People wait in line at the State of Michigan Wayne County Family Independence Agency office in Detroit, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009.   (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

(Newser) – If you’re not making much money but are driving a nice car, don’t expect any help buying groceries in Michigan. The state this month began checking the assets of would-be food stamp recipients, USA Today reports; anyone with more than $5,000 in liquid assets or a car or truck worth more than $15,000 is most likely disqualified. “If you’re driving an Escalade, maybe it’s time to find a car that better fits your current economic situation,” a Department of Human Services official explained.

Michigan isn’t the only state to check assets—Arizona, Texas, and Indiana, do as well, among others. But the move runs counter to the current trend; many states, including Nebraska and Louisiana, decided to ditch asset tests to help the recently unemployed and preserve any modest savings they might have. “Telling them they can't have assets, you're undermining the premise of the program,” one advocate for the poor explains. “A lot of these benefits go to people that were, a few years ago, solidly within the middle class. It's probably going to be temporary help.”

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