A Million To Be Kicked Off Food Stamps

It’s happening next year:

Roughly 1 million of the nation’s poorest people will be cut off SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) over the course of 2016, due to the return in many areas of a three-month limit on SNAP benefits for unemployed adults aged 18-50 who aren’t disabled or raising minor children.  These individuals will lose their food assistance benefits after three months regardless of how hard they are looking for work.

This will cause some serious hardship:

As our new report explains, the affected people will lose an average of $150 to $200 per person per month.  For this group, that’s a dramatic loss.  People subject to the three-month limit have average monthly income of about 19 percent of the poverty line (about $2,200 per year for a household of one in 2014), and they typically don’t qualify for other income support.

Part of the 1996 welfare law, the three-month limit hasn’t been in effect in most states in recent years because states can waive it temporarily in areas with high unemployment.  But as unemployment rates fall, fewer areas will qualify for waivers, even though many people —including many lower-skilled workers — who want to work still can’t find jobs.  People subject to the three-month limit generally have limited education and skills and limited job prospects.

Joan McCarter points out that there’s “another way that the law allows for this population to keep the benefit—if they spend 20 hours a week in job training, workfare, or another work program”:

But here’s the kicker; states weren’t required to create these job training programs for the unemployed, and so very few do. In most areas, private job training programs just don’t have the resources to extend to the entire population who would need them.