Unemployed to Lose Food Stamps

People who are currently unemployed will be soon losing access to their food stamps. Despite the United States being in a comfortable economic recovery since the recession occurred back in 2008, states are restricting benefits to as many as 50,000 folks, beginning October first. The state of Indiana will be next in line.

According an article published in The Huffington Post earlier this year, the Hoosier State notified roughly 50,000 of the state’s 836,000 food stamp recipients that they would be getting the boot come October unless they meet work requirements set by the 1996 Federal Welfare Reform Law. This measure requires childless adults without disabilities to work at least 20 hours a week in order to qualify for more than three months worth of food stamp benefits.

Federal regulations allowed states to waive that particular rule in times of high unemployment and since 2009, every state has done exactly that. Nevertheless, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – commonly known as the food stamp program – notified states that they were going to soon lose those waivers due to a decrease in unemployment rates.

Ending the waivers would kick about a million people off food stamps by the end of next year, according to a January estimate by Ed Bolen, a policy expert with the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. In a recent interview, Bolen said that Indiana is being more aggressive about the time limit than it needs to be since there are some states that are able to still apply for limited waivers in areas where there is still high unemployment.

“Indiana is not taking an approach that other states are taking, which is to keep the waiver in parts of the state that are hard hit,” Bolen said.

Jim Gavin, a spokesperson for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration disagreed and said that getting rid of the waivers altogether is a much better policy.

“We view the establishment of the time limits as an opportunity to help improve the skills of Hoosiers in all parts of the state and advance their prospects for meaningful employment,” Gavin said, “while at the same time establishing a pool of better prepared candidates for the Indiana workforce.”

“Only about 10 percent of the 47 million SNAP recipients nationally were able-bodied adults without dependents in 2013,” according to the most recent USDA data. The overall number of recipients has slightly declined since then to approximately 45 million.

The three-month time frame for those people not working has also been reinstated in Maine, Wisconsin and pretty soon in New Mexico. The state of Kansas reimposed it in 2013. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R) and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez (R) urged other states to follow the same suit in an article published in The Washington Times.

“We encourage governors not to renew work waivers for able-bodied adults without dependent children who are on food assistance and, instead, help lift millions off of welfare and transition them to meaningful jobs as a result,” the governors wrote, citing circumstantial evidence that reimposing the time limit boosted employment in some states.

Those who are receiving food stamps, can satisfy the work requirement by either finding a job or participate in job training programs. Nevertheless, Bolen said that most states do not offer programs that would guarantee people those options if they are unable to find work.

Click Here for more information about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

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