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Currently there's a heated debate going on in Congress to change the work requirements for SNAP (better known as the food stamp program). The proposal is said to make people less reliant on government welfare, but it certainly adds bloated bureaucracy layers to the process, and ultimately will make it harder to qualify.
Right now, the work requirements to qualify for food stamps for more than 3 months in a 3 year period are:
Under current SNAP rules implemented in 1996, able-bodied adults without dependents, or ABAWDs, between the ages of 18 and 49 are required to work at least 20 hours a week or participate in a qualified job-training or volunteer program in order to be eligible for more than three months of benefits over a three-year period. Benefits are cut off after three months if the work requirements are not met and the applicant has not received a waiver (more on those waivers later).
And the proposed changes that has only passed through certain parts of Congress would be amended to the following:
The proposed GOP law would raise the age of those subject to the work requirement from 49 to 59, and extend the work requirements to adults with children ages 6 and older. The minimum work required would rise to 25 hours per week in 2026.
The article continues, detailing how this would effect SNAP enrollment in the years to come:
According to CBO, 62 percent of the 1.2 million who would ultimately lose benefits would be able-bodied adults caring for children 6 or older. Another 27 percent would able-bodied adults between the ages of 50 and 59 without dependents (due to the age extension in the bill). And 11 percent of them would be able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 without dependents.
CBO estimates that, on average in 2028, those 1.2 million people would lose $1,816 in annual food assistance benefits.
In addition to the new work requirements trimming the ranks of SNAP recipients, CBO says another 400,000 households per year would lose eligibility due to a change that would cut off SNAP eligibility for those whose gross income exceeds 130 percent of poverty, instead of the 200 percent threshold for SNAP recipients in some states.
The bill would provide an additional $6.7 billion over the next 10 years for employment and training services — an amount CBO does not expect would fund enough job training for all who would be eligible for it under the new bill.
It's not clear if Congress will pass this bill wholesale, or make changes to it, or cut out the language of these changes altogether. Senator Deb Fischer from Nebraska doesn't think these changes will pass at all.
What do you think of the changes? I have a problem with trying to fix a welfare spending problem by making states spend more money on job training programs. In one way, maybe that could stimulate the economy and effect people's lives positively. And I see that. But on the flip side, it's just spending money a different way. And it might end up costing the taxpayer more. Not to mention it will take years for states to implement the changes, while in the meantime, many will go hungry in the process.
If you would like to see if you qualify for food stamps under the current law, use this official link:
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - Am I Eligbile for SNAP?
There is also this Pre-Screening Tool from the Food & Nutrition Service:
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - Pre-Screening Eligibility Tool