Food Stamp Program Rules Tighten

The changes will affect adults up to age 48 who aren’t disabled and don’t have dependents.

December 06, 2019

WASHINGTON—The Trump Administration has formalized a rule that requires able-bodied and childless food stamp recipients to work at least 20 hours a week to retain benefits, NBC News reports. The move, which will take effect April 1, 2020, may reduce by 700,000 the number of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients.

“We’re taking action to reform our SNAP program in order to restore the dignity of work to a sizable segment of our population and be respectful of the taxpayers who fund the program,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “Americans are generous people who believe it is their responsibility to help their fellow citizens when they encounter a difficult stretch. That’s the commitment behind SNAP, but, like other welfare programs, it was never intended to be a way of life.”

The rule impacts those between the ages of 18 and 48 who are not disabled and who have no children. Current rules require this group to work at least 20 hours weekly for more than 90 days in a 36-month period to qualify for benefits. However, states have been able to waive that requirement in areas with high unemployment rates.

The new rule imposes limits on those waivers, mandating that the waivers only be used in areas with a 6% or higher unemployment rate. Currently, the national unemployment rate is 3.6%.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated the change would save the government $5.5 billion during a five-year period. The agency said 2.9 million adults on SNAP had no dependents and were able to work, with 2.1 million not employed.