Alabama’s new policy requiring able-bodied adults to work at least 20 hours a week has cost nearly 35,000 people their food stamps benefits.
On January 1, 49,940 Alabamians, 18 to 49 years old, were relying on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). As of May 1, that number had fallen to 15,375, according to Barry Spear of the Alabama Department of Human Resources.
Spear says the state will see a savings of more than $6 million due to the updated welfare figures.
The drop in Alabama’s food stamps dependents was the result of federal work requirement waivers expiring.
Food stamps, or SNAP, have been linked to federal work requirements for 20 years. According to the USDA:
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) limits the receipt of SNAP benefits to 3 months in a 36-month period for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) who are not working at least 80 hours per month.
During the Great Recession, some states qualified for waivers, which allowed those state governments to waive those able-bodied adults not caring for children and living in areas in the state with high unemployment. Now that the economy has improved, those waivers have expired, and food stamps recipients who are able to work must find a job or lose their benefits.
In the months leading up to the expiration, the Alabama Department of Human Resources mailed 32,672 notices to those Alabamians who might lose their food stamps benefits.
The work requirement will not take effect in 13 of Alabama’s 67 counties because the unemployment rate is more than ten percent in those areas.
Nationally, more than 500,000 Americans and up to a million may be tossed off food stamps rolls.
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