Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has increased over the past decade. We offer the latest insight on the Trump Administration’s efforts to reform a system impacting millions.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today (Wednesday) unveiled a final rule to move what they call able-bodied SNAP recipients towards self-sufficiency and into employment by enforcing stricter work requirements.
“We are announcing a final rule to move more able-bodied recipients towards self-sufficiency and into employment. The rule restores the system to what Congress intended, which was assistance through difficult times, not a way of life,” Secretary Perdue said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to uphold the original intent of welfare reform by establishing robust and quantitative standards for state waiver requirements, according to Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Brandon Lipps.
“(In) recognizing that employment conditions on the ground are variable and dynamic, it (final rule) eliminates sweeping statewide waivers and adopts the use of labor market areas, target areas the Labor Department identifies, where residents can find jobs within a reasonable distance, change jobs without changing their residence,” Lipps said.
Current regulations grant able-bodied adults food assistance no more than three months out of every three years, unless they met certain work requirements. States could waive such work requirements when jobs were unavailable or did not match workers’ skills.
Lipps notes, however, “The final rule limits the duration of waivers to ensure they reflect current economic conditions by requiring the use of standardized data to support waivers.” USDA officials expect 688,000 recipients to be impacted.
“It only permits alternatives to the statutory 10-percent unemployment waiver for areas that need, or exceed a six-percent unemployment rate. It requires, as expected by law, the explicit support of the state government chief executive to pursue a waiver. Recognizing the importance of state exemption to extend eligibility for a limited number of able-bodies continues their use, but ends the unlimited carryover of these discretionary exemptions, allowing a common sense one year carryover period.”
The final rule will be posted in the Federal Register tomorrow and go into effect in April. All changes outlined in the final rule can be found at https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/fr-120419.