USDA announces new rules for SNAP food assistance recipients

Some 688,000 food stamp recipients will have to find work by April or risk losing benefits as the Trump administration issues a final rule making it harder for states to get exemptions from work requirements

Some 688,000 food stamp recipients will have to find work by April or risk losing benefits as the Trump administration issues a final rule making it harder for states to get exemptions from work requirements

The Trump administration announced new rules on Wednesday that could leave 12,000 New Jerseyans without the food stamps they now receive.

Officials say that about 7 percent of the individuals on SNAP are considered able-bodied adults without dependents (ABWDs) and that the rule will save the government $5.5 billion over five years. That's down from its original estimate that 750,000 people would lose benefits.

Under current rules, work-eligible able-bodied adults without dependents and between the ages of 18 and 49 can now receive only three months of SNAP benefits in a three-year period if they don't meet the 20-hour work requirement.

"To take away that flexibility at a time when the New Jersey economy is improving and we are helping people get on a better financial footing is simply wrong", Johnson said.

"Now, in the midst of the strongest economy in a generation, we need everyone who can work, to work", said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, citing the low 3.6% national unemployment rate.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said the plan will only serve to punish workers whose jobs are seasonal or unreliable.

"This is an unacceptable escalation of the administration's war on working families, and it comes during a time when too many are forced to stretch already-thin budgets to make ends meet", said Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, a Democrat and chair of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations. Stabenow said "there's a reason" they didn't make it into the final version.

"Denying them basic food and nutrition is not the route that a fair and compassionate administration of either party should take", he said in a statement.

The administration has sought to tighten requirements for food stamps without congressional approval after the US Congress blocked a Trump-backed effort to pass new restrictions through the Farm Bill past year.

"For able-bodied adults without dependents, US law limits SNAP benefits to three months, unless recipients are working or in training for 20 hours a week", the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

"If the rule is implemented, the nation would see higher rates of hunger and poverty", Weill said in a statement.

The Trump administration's proposal to curtail states' ability to waive work requirements sparked a flood of outrage from aid groups, Democratic lawmakers, and ordinary people. "Even if adults are playing by all the rules and looking for work, they will now be much more likely to lose all of their nutritional assistance".

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