The Trump administration is currently looking to make changes to the food stamp program that could cause over 750,000 people receiving benefits to no longer qualify for them.
According to NPR, the Trump administration plans to tighten down on the rules regarding employment requirements to qualify for SNAP benefits by placing limitations on whether a state can obtain a waiver to bypass these requirements.
Speaking to the House subcommittee earlier this week, researcher Karen Cunnyngham stressed the importance of understanding that this proposal would hit the poorest Americans across the U.S. the hardest.
According to CNN, the average monthly income of the group of individuals Karen believes will suffer from this proposal the most is $557. While 11 percent of the SNAP recipients in this group do have jobs, they do not work enough hours to meet the requirements the Trump administration is now proposing.
To receive food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, adults who are not disabled and who do not have dependents are required to hold a job. These same adults are entitled to emergency benefits for three months every three years before they are cut off unless they participate in government-approved work training programs or work at least 20 hours per week.
Local food stamp offices require those applying for benefits to supply check stubs, banking records, and taxes to verify employment. In some states, applicants are required to give a written statement confirming how many hours they work each week.While applicants can be self-employed and receive benefits, they are required to provide verification of accounting for their profits and losses as well as their tax information.
While exact documentation requirements do vary upon location, all applicants are required to verify their income and employment situation hasn't changed every six months.Presently, individual states do have the option of waiving these requirements if the unemployment rate in the area is higher than normal. The reason these requirements are waived is because – per the Department of Labor – there are not enough jobs to go around to the able-bodied adults living in the area.
The Trump administration's proposal is aiming at tightening what individual states are able to argue as insufficient jobs. The new plan would also require the unemployment rate in the area to be at least 7 percent.Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, the executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, explained to CNN that many of the individuals who fall into this category have "profound barriers" that prevent them from getting employment including things such as never finishing high school or not having a reliable mode of transportation to get to and from work. Many experts have come forward to agree that forcing this requirement is going to hurt people more than it helps people. Republicans on the other side of the argument, however, argue that employment is the key people currently living in poverty need to climb out of it.