New Food Stamp Work Requirements

December 11, 2019

by John McClaughry

Liberals everywhere are up in arms over a new rule from the Trump administration’s  Health and Human Services Department. Under the rule, certain adult food stamp recipients without dependents who have received aid for more than three months would be required to take a job; if a job is not immediately available, recipients would be required to undertake training, perform community service work or at least look for a job.

More than two-thirds of the three million able-bodied adult food stamp recipients are exempt from the requirements. That includes adults with minor children, the elderly and the disabled.

The press reports that some 700,000 recipients would “lose their benefits” under the rule. Actually not a single individual will lose their benefits  – if they conscientiously perform 20 hours a week of activities that a least look like work.

The Heritage Foundation reports polling that reveals that more than 90% of the public agrees that “able-bodied adults who receive cash, food, housing, and medical assistance should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving those government benefits.”

No surprise there. Most people don’t begrudge government assistance for the sick and disabled, the elderly, or single parents with kids. But most people who work expect that able bodied adults, not disabled or elderly, need to quit loafing and start working. This modest new rule ought to win widespread support.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Roger Joslin December 11, 2019 at 9:23 pm

Right on!!!


Paul Lyon December 12, 2019 at 1:20 pm

Thanks for the clarification. I can use this information immediately to dispel the hysteria i am hearing about the the 700,000 figure.


thomas moore December 14, 2019 at 9:07 am

the other day I was paying for my gas and a young woman was buying beer with her Vermont food card. I saw her out side and asked her how can she get beer with that food card. She told me that she gets some food stamp money and some cash on the card. This up set me that you can get beer on my tax dollars. Thank you Trump


Lily December 14, 2019 at 1:47 pm

If someone wanted to check Vermont’s welfare history I believe there was a trial program run at some point during the 1990’s to see how a weekly 20 hour work search would work towards finding employment of at least 20 hours weekly to continue receiving food stamps. This was also for able bodied without children individuals. Think that was under the Clinton administration. Wonder how that turned out? Never heard much about it in the media.


Mike December 14, 2019 at 2:46 pm

Nothing new here. During the Clinton administration, the Republican Legislature after three tries were able to effect changes in Johnson’s “free socity” program to require certain recipients of welfare to seek work or enter a training program which will improve their prospects for finding gainful employment. Then along came Obama who scrapped this condition, and guess what? Hundreds or most probably thousands went back on the dole. With all the “help wanted” signs out abounding, there is ample opportunity for the able bodied on food stamps to find a job. This revised condition is the one more of the many promises President Trump has kept in his crusade to “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN”!!!


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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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