A new report estimates that 1 million of the nation’s poorest residents will lose their food assistance as states return to former limits on who is eligible for food stamps as the economy improves.
Nearly 1 million unemployed childless adults are set to lose the benefits of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, beginning this fall.
That’s an estimate from a new report from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Food stamp benefits for unemployed adults (ages 18 to 50) who aren’t disabled or don’t have minor children are normally limited to just three months in a 36-month period, unless the recipient is working or in a work or training program for a minimum of 20 hours a week.
“Even SNAP recipients whose state operates few or no employment programs for them and fails to offer them a spot in a work or training program, which is the case in most states, have their benefits cut off after three months irrespective of whether they are searching diligently for a job,” the report said.
The three-month cap can be waived under certain circumstances, such as unemployment levels of more than 10 percent, Business Insider reports. In fact, 42 states still have full or partial waivers in effect, mostly as a result of the Great Recession, according to CNN Money.
But now that the economy has improved, the waivers are being withdrawn. “As unemployment continues to fall, about 30 percent of states’ waivers have already expired, and the CBPP says most of the remaining waivers are going to expire by 2016,” BI said.
The CBPP report says pulling these people’s food assistance, which averages $150 to $200 a month, will become a “serious hardship.”
”Agriculture Department (USDA) data show that the individuals subject to the three-month limit have average monthly income of approximately 19 percent of the poverty line, and they typically qualify for no other income support,” the report explained.
So, who are these 1 million people who stand to lose their SNAP benefits? The report said 40 percent are women, about 1 in 3 are older than 40, half are Caucasian and 33 percent are African-American. While 40 percent live in urban areas, 40 percent live in the suburbs and another 20 percent live in rural regions. The report said their situation is dire:
Many in this population, which generally has limited education and skills and limited job prospects, struggle to find employment even in normal economic times. … Cutting off food assistance to poor unemployed and underemployed workers doesn’t enable them to find employment or secure more hours of work.
The CBPP is urging Congress to revise the federal law that limits food stamps for unemployed adults. In the meantime, it’s recommending that states prepare for a potential onslaught of people who are cut off from their food stamp benefits and need to rely on local services, such as food banks and shelters.
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