Friday, December 21, 2018

USDA unveils proposal to limit states' ability to grant some SNAP waivers, reviving failed Farm Bill provision

Though tighter restrictions on SNAP recipients didn't make it to the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill, the Trump administration has introduced a proposal that accomplishes much the same. Yesterday the Department of Agriculture "announced a proposal aimed at limiting states’ ability to waive existing work requirements for certain food-stamp recipients — essentially giving the House GOP some of what they sought in the Farm Bill. Not coincidentally, it’s happening the same day as the White House farm bill signing ceremony," Ryan McCrimmon reports for Politico.

Under current law, able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) can't be in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps, for more than there months in a three-year period unless they're students, in training, or working 80 hours a month. States can waive that time limit when there aren't many jobs available, but the proposed rule would tighten criteria states must meet when applying for those waivers.

If the proposal is implemented, the USDA estimates 755,000 able-bodied adults without dependents would lose SNAP benefits over three years, and that the plan will save $15 billion over the next decade, McCrimmon reports. But the restrictions would likely end up hurting SNAP recipients who already work. Most ABAWDs are in the labor force, with very few working less than 20 hours a week or always unemployed, economist Lauren Bauer reports for Brookings.

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