700,000 people will lose food stamps with USDA work requirement change

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

Hundreds of thousands of Americans who rely on the federal food stamp program will lose their benefits under a new Trump administration rule that will tighten work requirements for recipients.

The rule change, which was first unveiled earlier this year, would restrict states' ability to exempt people without dependents from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program's work requirements.

"This rule lays the groundwork for the expectation that able-bodied Americans re-enter the workforce where there are now more job openings than people to fill them", Purdue said.

Scaling back public benefits for low-income Americans has always been a Trump administration priority.

USDA officials say the rule announced Wednesday would save roughly $5.5 billion over five years.

"For able-bodied adults without dependents, USA 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.

The new rule would make it harder for states to receive those waivers by tightening the definition of areas where there are insufficient jobs, narrowing the geographic areas of waivers and limiting their duration, among other provisions.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said the rule change will promote work across the country and push people toward self-sufficiency.

Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said the rule would disproportionately affect minorities.

Over the past year the Agriculture Department has proposed three significant changes to the food stamp program. They receive about $165 in food stamps a month. The USDA initially estimated that up to 750,000 individuals would be dropped from SNAP if the proposal took effect. "This rule lays the groundwork for the expectation that able-bodied Americans re-enter the workforce where there are now more job openings than people to fill them".

"The final rule would cause serious harm to individuals, communities, and the nation while doing nothing to improve the health and employment of those impacted by the rule", he said. The Food Research & Action Center is a national nonprofit organization that works to end poverty-related hunger.

The final rule is the administration's latest initiative to impose work requirements in government assistance programs.

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