Monday, April 13, 2015

States beginning to impose time limits, restrictions on receiving SNAP benefits

Several states have begun imposing time limits and work requirements for receiving food stamps, and millions of Americans have lost their access to assistance, Jess Bidgood reports for The New York Times. Nationwide, 11.4 percent of households received Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits from 2008-2012, but numbers were higher in rural areas, with 14.6 percent of households receiving assistance.

During the recession, most states took advantage of a provision that allows them to waive the time limit on receiving food stamps "when unemployment is persistently high, which meant poor adults could stay on the program regardless of their work status," Bidgood writes. But eight states that qualified for waivers in 2015 either didn't use them or only used them in parts of the state. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates "that 23 states will cease to qualify for statewide waivers in the 2016 fiscal year." (USDA map)
Last year Maine Republican Gov. Paul R. LePage "decided to reimpose a three-month limit (out of every three-year period) on food stamps for a group often known as Abawds—able-bodied adults without minor dependents—unless they work 20 hours per week, take state job-training courses or volunteer for about six hours per week," Bidgood writes. The state's food stamp recipients have dropped nearly 80 percent since the rule kicked in, from 12,000 to 2,530.

"In Kansas, the number of childless, able-bodied adults receiving food stamps dropped by 15,000 in the month after the waiver expired in December 2013, compared with the roughly 3,000 to 4,000 people who had been leaving the program monthly before the change, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities," Bidgood writes.

"The re-emergence of the work requirements has stoked discontent among advocates for the poor and hungry who say the law is unfair because states are not required to offer food stamp recipients a work assignment before cutting them off and because searching for a job does not necessarily count," Bidgood writes. "The Agriculture Department makes money available to states willing to pledge work assignments to food stamp recipients, but many states do not take advantage of it. Recently the department announced that it had provided $200 million to 10 states for pilot programs that would help people find jobs and move them off food stamps." (Read more)

No comments: