How many people in Buncombe County are impacted by the benefits cliff?
Now that we’ve outlined the benefits cliff and it’s hazards, our next concern might be the magnitude of the effect in Buncombe County. How many people are at risk of falling off the cliff? Creating exact estimates is difficult, but we can look to 2019 US Census data for rough corollary figures.
The graph below displays the number of individuals who are enrolled in Food and Nutrition Services (FNS), those who are below the income level and potentially qualify for FNS (individuals who are “Enrolled in FNS” are included within the “Below Income Level” grouping), and those who are above the income level and do not qualify for FNS. The graph provides three options to visualize Buncombe County residents’ FNS enrollment and income qualification including by total population, household size, race and ethnicity.
This graph can only provide ballpark figures about how many people are enrolled in FNS; it does not identify which individuals receive benefits. Just because an individual’s income is below the eligibility threshold on the graph, this does not mean that the person qualifies for the given benefit. Benefit eligibility depends on factors beyond income, and incomes are typically tied to monthly, not yearly, income.