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In Michigan, if you have $5,000 in liquid assets or a car or truck worth more than $15,000, you're probably out of luck under new rules launched this month. Earlier this month, the state of Michigan began asking residents about their assets — homes, cars, stocks, bonds, even lottery winnings — in addition to income when they receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the formal name for food stamps.
Michigan wants the test to weed out people who are gaming the system, said Brian Rooney, director of policy and compliance at the Michigan Department of Human Services. "If you're driving an Escalade, maybe it's time to find a car that better fits your current economic situation," Rooney said. The state has identified about 15,000 recipients who could lose benefits.
Food stamps have been around since 1939 as a way to help low-income people get their groceries. More than 40 million Americans used the benefit in September, receiving an average benefit of $134 per person or $290 per household, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the program.