Trump Wants More Americans to Get a Job to Retain Eligibility for Food Stamps
WASHINGTON, DC — If you are between 18 and 49 years of age, are single and without dependents, President Donald Trump wants you to get a job in order to continue receiving food stamps. Under existing rules before Wednesday's announcement, a non-working able-bodied Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipient without kids had three months before benefits stopped, and those three months could not be used in new claims for a timeframe encompassing the ensuing three years. Although under Wednesday's announced rule, the work requirements did not change, but the rule did tighten existing generous exemptions and waivers of the work requirement that the USDA, the administrator of the program, offered to the states.
The revised rules for SNAP eligibility for what the USDA calls "able-bodied adults without dependents," or ABAWDs, will see the USDA more strictly enforce the work requirement of 20 hours a week by denying many current waivers of the work requirement. The revised conditions for state-requested waivers from the USDA will now apply to generally areas with an unemployment rate exceeding 10 percent or a lack of sufficient jobs. Also, the rule limits carryover of ABAWD discretionary exemptions, according to the USDA. The rule change will also incentivize ABAWDs to proactively pursue any and all work and/or work training opportunities within commuting distance of their residences
Until this rule change, some states had been successful in receiving USDA SNAP waivers of the 20-hour work requirement to recipients even in areas with a 2.5 percent unemployment rate. The USDA claims that currently about half of the ABAWDs on SNAP live in waived areas, despite low unemployment levels across the majority of the country. According to the Trump administration, even though the unemployment rate is 3.6 percent nationwide, over 36 million Americans in total still receive SNAP benefits.
The rule was proposed in February and will go into effect on April 1, 2020. It doesn’t apply to children and their parents, those older than 50 (including the elderly), people with a disability, and pregnant women.
The administration claimed the rule change will save taxpayers $109 million in 2020 and $5.48 billion over the five years from 2020 to 2024.
Grocers and advocates for SNAP warn that the rule change will remove 688,000 SNAP recipients from the program who will not meet the work requirements or who would otherwise be exempt under the final rule. Grocers, from the large grocery stores like HEB to small convenience stores like Stripes, will lose revenue. The Reduction of recipients means approximately $1.1 billion less per year nationwide will be distributed via SNAP under the rule changes, reported Supermarket News today.
Congressman Mike Conaway spoke in favor of enhanced work requirements for SNAP recipients and, under his leadership of the House Agriculture Committee, incorporated them into the final markup of the House committee's version of the 2018 Farm Bill. Those enhanced work requirements were stripped to get the bill to the floor of the House for a vote.
In addition to SNAP, the Farm Bill authorizes farm subsidies, and lawmakers had to work a compromise quickly so the federal government could continue those subsidies without interruption. President Trump signed the bill in 2018 before the Democrats took over the House of Representatives.
The rule somewhat restores the intentions of Conaway's version of the 2018 Farm Bill through executive rule changes, though the impact is not nearly as great as it could have been had Conaway's unaltered Farm Bill became law.
“Not everyone in this country is able to work. Many SNAP recipients are disabled, or serve as the primary caregiver for a child or elderly relative. But for those whose situations allow it, employment is a chance to regain dignity and purpose, and contribute to our economy and society," Conaway said of Wednesday's rule changes. "We should not count these individuals out simply based on the circumstances they find themselves in today. The 2018 Farm Bill enhanced educational opportunities and training programs dedicated to serving SNAP recipients, ensuring that everyone looking to improve their situation has the chance to do so; USDA will be building on those efforts in the near future."
“I applaud USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue’s decision to move forward with this rule, and look forward to continued efforts that move more Americans from poverty to prosperity," Conaway said.
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