Giving Compass’ Take:
• Lauren Bauer, Jana Parsons, and Jay Shambaugh explain the final rule on work requirement waivers to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
• What does this rule mean for food-insecure households in your community?
• Read about who profits from work requirements for SNAP.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a final rule on work requirement waivers to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; formerly the Food Stamp Program). The release of the rule finalizes the USDA’s efforts to limit eligibility for SNAP work requirements by modifying the economic conditions under which states could apply for waivers from work requirements.
SNAP is designed to expand during economic downturns, and in doing so, it offers nutrition assistance to low-income families and also provides economic stimulus to communities and the economy as a whole. Accordingly, the USDA’s final rule has greatly weakened a crucial part of the safety net for vulnerable populations and one of the most effective recession-fighting tools in the fiscal policy toolkit.
Work requirements are imposed on those who are otherwise eligible for SNAP but who are between the ages of 18 and 49, not disabled, and do not have dependents (“able-bodied without dependents” [ABAWD]). ABAWD work requirements inhibit SNAP from expanding rapidly during economic downturns as it becomes more difficult to find a job and satisfy the work requirement. This constraint makes SNAP a less-effective automatic stabilizer.
The law provides for a safety valve—work requirement waivers—that exempts places from time limits on benefit receipt where there is evidence of a lack of sufficient jobs. States are permitted to apply to the USDA for waivers to the time limit provisions for the entire state as well as sub-state geographic areas if their economic conditions meet certain standards.
Read the full article about work requirement waivers for SNAP by Lauren Bauer, Jana Parsons, and Jay Shambaugh at Brookings
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