The moves came after Congress rejected House Republican efforts to change the food stamp program in a way that would have taken benefits from 35,000 New Jersey residents. It is the first of three proposed rules targeting the Supplemental Nutrition Program, known as SNAP, to be finalized. "This rule lays the groundwork for the expectation that able-bodied Americans re-enter the workforce where there are now more job openings than people to fill them".
The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed changes that, if they'd been implemented previous year, would mean 3.7 million fewer people and 2.1 million fewer households would have received help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in an average month, according to a new study from the not-for-profit Urban Institute.
Almost 700,000 people will lose their SNAP benefits next year due to a new USDA rule, but the change isn't expected to affect Hoosiers. Under current law, adults without dependents can get SNAP benefits for three months out of a three-year period, but some states have issued waivers to allow for individuals to continue to receive benefits.
The US generally limits the amount of time that adults can receive food stamps when they are aged 18-49 and who do not have dependents or disability benefits. However, counties with an unemployment rate as low as 2.5 percent have been included in waived areas, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the agency that runs SNAP.
The final rule will be published in the federal register Thursday, and go into effect in April.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said the plan will only serve to punish workers whose jobs are seasonal or unreliable.
Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said the rule would disproportionately affect minorities. He urged better job training and a higher minimum wage instead. They receive about $165 in food stamps a month.
Over the past year the Agriculture Department has proposed three significant changes to the food stamp program.
Under the proposed version of the work requirement rule, the USDA had estimated that about 750,000 recipients would lose benefits. "This is about restoring the original intent of food stamps ... moving more able-bodied Americans to self sufficiency".