By Pat Loeb

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Pennsylvania Welfare Department has confounded anti-hunger groups by reinstating an asset test for recipients of food stamps. The groups fear the new rule will keep some people from receiving help they need, and they say it may actually end up costing the state money.

Pennsylvania had an asset test until 2008, when it joined the majority of states in eliminating what it found an unnecessary step, since recipients already have to pass a means test to get food stamps.

Welfare department spokesperson Anne Bale says it now wants to go back to the old system of making sure recipients have no more than $2,000 in savings.

“What it is we’re trying to do is just make sure that we are stretching every dollar, we’re spending money in the best way we can.”

Richard Weishaupt of Community Legal Services finds the move puzzling.

“I don’t think they’ll save any money at all.”

He notes that food stamps are 100 percent paid for by the federal government. The state pays half the cost of administering the program but restoring the asset test, he says, is likely to make administrative costs higher.

“It’s going to make the job of the people in the welfare office harder because they’re going to have a new test to do.”

Weishaupt says even people on food stamps should be able to save money, in case of illness or other emergency.