Why More States Are Requiring Work Requirements for Food Stamps
Elisabeth Zenger / Rachel Sheffield /
April 08, 2016
Newspaper headlines have been bemoaning that more states will now have to require adults on food stamps—who are able-bodied and without dependents—to work.
Since 2009, nearly all states have been able to waive the modest food stamp work requirement. But these waivers have gradually been expiring, and as of April 1, more states are once again required to enforce the modest food stamp work requirement.
The food stamps program is one of the largest government means-tested welfare programs. Participation grew rapidly, increasing from 28.2 million in the 2008 fiscal year to 45.8 million in the 2015 fiscal year (participation peaked in 2013 with 47.6 million participants). The
most rapid growth was among able-bodied adults without dependents, which jumped from just under 2 million in 2008 to 4.7 million in 2014.
Part of the reason for the increase was that Obama’s stimulus package waived food stamps’ work requirement. This required those who are adults and able to work and who don’t have children to work part-time (or do some type of work activity) in order to get food stamps. If not, their benefits would be limited to three months.
most states continued to receive waivers until this year. Even now, however, the majority of states still receive a partial waiver, meaning that parts of states are exempt from the work requirement.
Some states decided to end their waivers early, and evidence shows that the work requirement in these states has been beneficial.
Kansas ended its work requirement waiver in 2013, it saw a 75-percent decline in its caseload of able-bodied adults with dependents. For those who left the program, average income increased within a year, from $2,453 annually to $5,562 annually: an amount greater than their previous income and food stamp benefits combined. For those still on food stamps, the work requirement led to more employment and higher incomes.
Maine is another example. The state reinstated work requirements in December 2014, and within three months, its caseload of adults without dependents dropped by 80 percent, from 13,332 to 2,678. Nine months later, it had dropped to 1,886. Most chose to forgo benefits rather than meet the work requirements.
A common concern is that those people choosing not to fulfill the work requirement lack adequate assistance to meet the requirements, but the numerous options for work, training, and community service provided by the state of Maine were met with
very little response.
As reported in a
previous Heritage Foundation article, “when the Maine Department of Health and Human Services conducted outreach to about 700 able bodied adults without dependents in Portland to inform them about a volunteer program that could fulfill the community service work requirement, only about 15 of the 700 contacted responded.”
Welfare assistance should be available to those in need, but policy should encourage self-sufficiency for able-bodied adults rather than simply provide a one-way government handout. The examples of Kansas and Maine show that work requirements accomplished what they are intended to do: Encourage self-sufficiency. Work requirements promote greater self-reliance and establish reciprocal obligation between the beneficiary and the taxpayers who provide the benefits.
However, the vast majority of the federal government’s 80 means-tested welfare programs do not include a work requirement. Good welfare policy should promote productive participation in society through work to improve the well-being of recipients.
the number of food stamp recipients the United States has risen dramatically
from 17.2 million in 2002 45 point eight million in 2015 costs have soared as
well from 20.7 billion dollars in 2008 e 3.1 billion dollars in 2014
the most rapid growth in recipient able-bodied capable adults between the
ages of 18 and 49 who do not have children or other dependents to support
the number of recipients has more than doubled nationally swelling from nearly
two million 2008 around five million today in response to this rapid growth
main to Governor Paul LePage recently established work requirement on
recipients were without dependents enable body in Maine all able-bodied
adult dependents in the food stamp program are now required to take a job
participate in training or perform community service in the first three
months after may not work policy went into effect its caseload able-bodied
adults without dependent plummeted by 80% falling from 13330 to reset the
incident number of 2014 to 2678 in March 2015 government should aid those in need
the welfare should not be a one-way handouts
Maine’s Successful Welfare Reform and Why It Worked
Genevieve Wood /
April 12, 2016
States are often the best laboratories for testing out what public policies will make life better for their citizens. Maine’s experiment with welfare reform is a great example. When Gov. Paul LePage, only the second Republican governor of Maine in the past 50 years, came into office, one in three people living in the state was on some form of welfare. LePage talked with me about how they turned the system on its head and how those reforms have made the American dream a reality for more of Maine’s citizens.
page thank you for talking with us it’s a pleasure
you’re doing some amazing things in Maine and so we can get
to let let’s talk about what you’ve done on welfare reform when you came to
one-in-three citizens in Maine were on some form of welfare one-in-three
one-in-three a third of our population was in some form of welfare what are you
yes enormous price III I realized that MaineCare which was medicaid was was
heavy we had a lot of dual eligibles because we have a very old state where
the oldest state in America but it was shocking to see the youth was on it and
so that’s we went to work on getting them to work yet so you you’d start some
called welfare-to-work among other reforms tell us about what you think
it’s been most successful in changing the dynamics are and where you are today
I think that the thing that worked best in the way that the system sort of be
bored was by combining the department health and human services education
labor and now we’re putting in the veterans administration in the same
building so that when people come and we assess them if we do an assessment we
send them for educational assessment skills assessment and if they’re better
because many people particularly in recent last decade most of the soldiers
National Guard so what we do now is we say sir we do an intake we assess their
need their educational skills and whether or not what do they need so they
can hold down a job and so if you’re an able-bodied person between the ages of
1950 you are asked to look for work
volunteer or go to school and what’s been the result of that the one-third
decided they didn’t want to do any of the above so they left to happen happen
within a couple of months one third of the people that were on welfare some
form of brown because we all know and they weren’t for me that’s the thing
they just came to me because we’re so generous
and they just went back home that’s really what happened when they’re not on
the streets they just returned home but the bank people we really are
concentrating on work with me people and so what’s happening now with young women
particularly the young women who have children
single moms they are really the heroes in a state I am so proud of the results
are some of these young ladies who have gone back to school yet CNAs I ran some
of becoming teachers it’s just exciting to see what’s happening with the younger
and the difference being that you’ve asked people to try to help people get
skills as opposed to just give them a check right keep the main issue is we
take an interest in the people we take an interest from the standpoint of daily
intake understand what their needs are understand where they are and we work
with them rather than just say thank you will send you a check we roll up our
sleeves and we go to work with them and that’s that’s the key
having someone to talk to someone to help you understand what an interview
does what he doing an interview with you what you do you know just encouraging
people you can do it I am i believe the american dream so it’s easy for me to
say if I can do it you can do it and I can prove that I i’ve done it so it’s
it’s exciting to see people moving up and when you get those letters of
thinking governor I used to hate you know I love it feels good it feels good
so there’s some gratification government page thank you very much it’s been a