WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is tightening work requirements for the federal food stamp program in a move that will slash benefits for hundreds of thousands of people.
The finalized rule, announced Wednesday, will restrict states from exempting work-eligible adults from having to obtain steady employment in order to receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which helps feed more than 36 million Americans.
Brandon Lipps, deputy under secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Nutrition and Consumer Services, said the change would save roughly $5.5 billion over five years.
Secretary Sonny Perdue said the rule will help move people “from welfare to work.”
“We want to encourage people by giving them a helping hand, but not an infinitely giving hand,” he said.
Under current rules, work-eligible able-bodied adults without dependents and between the ages of 18 and 49 can currently receive only three months of SNAP benefits in a three-year period if they don’t meet the 20-hour per week work requirement. States with high unemployment rates or a demonstrable lack of sufficient jobs can waive those time limits.
The new rule imposes new, stricter criteria states must meet in order to issue waivers.