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Food Stamp Work Requirement Regulation Will Affect Who Qualifies

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    The Trump Administration has unveiled a major new regulation that could affect nearly one million Americans currently receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, otherwise known as food stamps. The new rule requires able bodied (which is not legally defined) people aged 18-49 years old without dependents who live in areas with less than a 10% unemployment rate to work 20 hours per week in order to continue receiving benefits. Current law already requires able bodied people without dependents to work, but the new regulation makes it so states can no longer apply for a waiver from the rule. The new rule is set to go into effect on April 1, 2020.

    While the Trump Administration is touting the new rule as a way to encourage able bodied people to work, numerous advocacy groups have denounced the new rule as unnecessarily cruel and short-sighted. Many states have claimed the new rules would put further stress on social service agencies already struggling under budget cuts and a litany of other issues. And private groups that help poor and lower middle-class citizens have decried that the new rule will make it so upwards of a million already struggling Americans will soon have yet another crisis on their hands.

    I personally think this new regulation will only hurt people who are already struggling to get by. There doesn't seem to be an exemption for individuals who simply can't find a job no matter how many they apply for. There also doesn't seem to be an exemption for individuals who have a job, but don't work 20 hours a week for no fault of their own. For those reasons alone, I am opposed to the new regulations. We are the richest nation in the world and we waste millions of tons of food a year. The least we can do is make sure everyone who lives here has food in their stomach.

    If you are currently receiving SNAP insurance and are unsure if this new rule will affect your benefits then you will need to contact the state agency that is in charge of the program to see what steps, if any, you need to take to ensure you continue to receive your benefits.

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    I remember reading last month that a number of states and Washington, D.C. have sued to block the new regulations from going into effect, but a haven't heard whether any court has granted them a temporary stay (which in effect blocks the rule pending litigation) or not.

    The states that sued argued Congress, not the Executive, has the sole authority to determine how the SNAP program works, writing "[U]nder well-settled law, the executive branch does not get to go forth with policies that Congress specifically rejected."

    I'm guessing the court will rule sometime soon because the rule is set to go into effect in April of this year.

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    Tough call. I am on the fence over this one. On one hand I agree with you, if you live here you shouldn't go hungry to the point of starving. But on the other hand, how do you sensibly make regulations to stop people from abusing a social safety net? I mean funding for SNAP ultimately comes from the people - taxes. So we should try and make sure the funds are going to those actually in need, people that are legitimately out of work and looking. And not folks that are just taking advantage of a govt program.

    Taking advantage does happen. So its really just a debate of to what extent it happens. Republicans say it happens a lot. Dems so not very much at all. I fall somewhere in between.

    Either way, thanks for bringing this topic up. It certainly needs to be discussed and will help those currently receiving SNAP make the moves needed between now and April, which is just around the corner.