States Did Not Enforce Work Requirements for Food Stamp Recipients

States did not always enforce work requirements for food stamp recipients before giving them benefits because doing so was “too burdensome” for them, according to an audit from the Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General.

The Food and Nutrition Service established work requirements for Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program participants who are able-bodied adults without dependents, fall in the age range of 18 to 49, and are not disabled. These individuals are required to work 20 hours or more each week or participate in a qualifying work activity.

If an individual does not meet this work requirement, he can only receive benefits for three months in a span of three years.

The agency can approve states to waive this time limit if a state’s unemployment rate is above 10 percent or in an area with insufficient jobs. Despite this, auditors found that the agency has approved waiver requests for areas where there is effectively full employment.

The audit found that officials in three states specifically requested these time limit waivers because tracking the work requirements was too burdensome.


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