Several states are unilaterally ending the waivers on work requirements for food stamps, which were part of the post-recession stimulus package, before federally required to end the waivers.
The 2009 stimulus allowed states to waive the work requirement for food stamps recipients, and gave federal money to cover the extra costs. States had to request the waivers, and now Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and New Jersey, join other states ending the program early, Bloomberg reports.
The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) work requirement, part of the 1996 welfare reform law, mandates that individuals without dependents and who are considered able-bodied must either prove they are working or in a training program at least 20 hours a week, or lose food stamps after three months, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
About 43.5 million people currently receive food stamps, which is 9 percent lower than the program’s peak in 2012, according to available data. The retreat from the waiver program may account for the drop in food stamp use, but some states say that since the improving economy has made it easier for childless adults to find work, the work requirements should be reinstated.
“We are in a position where we don’t want that waiver anymore,” South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said in March when she announced the move. “We see this as an opportunity to give more people work.”
When Kansas reinstated work requirements in 2013, 60 percent of able-bodied adults removed from food stamps found work within a year, the Foundation for Government Accountability found in a February report. (RELATED: Report: Welfare Fails When Recipients Aren’t Required To Work)
After seeing success in reinstating work requirements in three counties this year, Georgia announced it would expand the requirements to other counties starting in 2017.
“No one who is able-bodied and able to work should be drawing food stamps, period,” state Rep. Greg Morris told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week.
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