More Than 500,000 Americans Will Soon Lose Food Stamps

Photo (cc) by USDAgov

Hundreds of thousands of America’s poorest adults will soon lose access to the Supplemental Nutrition Access Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, as 22 states reinstate the program’s work requirements.

The change will affect more than 500,000 unemployed able-bodied adults ages 18 to 49 who don’t have minor children living with them, according to Stateline, a nonpartisan, nonprofit news service of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The work provision, which was implemented as part of the 1996 welfare law, limits SNAP benefits to three months during any three-year period for adults who aren’t employed or in a qualified work or training program for a minimum of 20 hours per week.

States with high unemployment rates (above 10 percent) or those that can prove there’s a lack of available jobs can apply for a waiver for the work provision. The government waived the work requirement for most states in 2009, when the Great Recession made finding and keeping a job tough for many Americans.

But now that the economy has improved, most states have had to or have chosen to reinstate the provision. Stateline says now all but seven states — California, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, Rhode Island and South Carolina — and the District of Columbia have work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents in at least part of the state.

The work requirement can be especially harsh for jobless Americans who are actively trying but unable to find employment, according to the nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Because this provision denies basic food assistance to people who want to work and will accept any job or work program slot offered, it is effectively a severe time limit rather than a work requirement, as such requirements are commonly understood. Work requirements in public assistance programs typically require people to look for work and accept any job or employment program slot that is offered but do not cut off people who are willing to work and looking for a job simply because they can’t find one.

Critics of the work provision say it’s especially unfair in states that lack programs to help jobless adults find work or get training for employment.

“If the state doesn’t provide any of these [programs], you’re out of luck,” Ed Bolen, senior policy analyst at the CBPP, told Stateline. “And that model doesn’t lead people to get jobs — it makes them desperate.”

Data from Kansas, which restored work requirements in 2013, show that the work requirements do get people working, says Jonathan Ingram, vice president of research at the Foundation for Government Accountability.

Ingram told Stateline that after the work requirement was reinstated, 12,807 of the 25,913 recipients it affected left the food stamp program. He said half of those that left found employment within three months. Of those that remained on food stamps, the work participation rate increased from 13 to 35 percent, Ingram noted.

“That’s the whole point of the work requirement is you want to get these able-bodied adults working,” he told Stateline. “What they really need is a good-paying job, not more welfare.”

About 1 in 10 recipients of food stamps are considered able-bodied adults without dependent children, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They receive an average of $191 in food stamps each month. These are typically the poorest Americans, both from a monetary and an educational standpoint.

“When we’re talking about this population, they’ve got low levels of skill, and the job market is still soft. They’re the first fired and the last to be re-hired,” Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, director of the Hamilton Project at the Brooking Institution, told Pacific Standard. “Taking away this meager benefit, it would be surprising to me if we then saw a big response of people working. The reason that these people are not working is not because they’re saying, ‘Oh gosh, I don’t want to lose my food stamp benefits.'”

What do you think of limiting food stamps for this population of adults? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
11 Small Money Moves That Will Make a Big Difference
11 Small Money Moves That Will Make a Big Difference

These small money moves will pay off big in the long run.

17 Home Maintenance Tasks That Save You Money
17 Home Maintenance Tasks That Save You Money

Here’s how to cut household costs and maintain your property’s value.

30 Purchases That Will Start Saving You Money Immediately
30 Purchases That Will Start Saving You Money Immediately

Sometimes, you’ve got to spend to save. These canny deals are a good bet for savings.

Not Asking About This in the Hospital Can Cost You Thousands
Not Asking About This in the Hospital Can Cost You Thousands

Medicare recipients who fail to clarify their hospital status can pay a high price.

9 Ways to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal for Less Than $50
9 Ways to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal for Less Than $50

These products will instantly improve your home’s curb appeal without breaking the bank.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

Do This in the Car If You Want to Avoid COVID-19
Do This in the Car If You Want to Avoid COVID-19

It takes just seconds to take this simple preventive measure.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

15 Products You Need — Even If You Didn’t Know It
15 Products You Need — Even If You Didn’t Know It

Discover some must-have products on Amazon that you didn’t even know you were missing.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.