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Geographic-Area Waivers Undermine Food Stamp Work Requirements

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Food stamp work requirements have a big loophole. Jamie Hall writes:  

Current regulations allow geographic-area waivers to be based on a percentage above the national average unemployment rate—allowing for the most part, the same areas to qualify for waivers year after year. This happens because the unemployment rate in counties tends to rise and fall with the national unemployment rate, with counties remaining in roughly the same order relative to one another over time. As shown […], 34.2 percent of low-income people live in areas that are never waivable, 35.2 percent live in areas that are occasionally waivable, and 30.7 percent live in areas that are usually waivable. Among that latter group is the 6.2 percent of low-income people who live in areas that, under current regulations, could have been exempted from work requirements in every single year since the government began to collect local-area-unemployment statistics. In other words, had the current SNAP work requirements been in place since 1992, and had states requested all available waivers, about 6.2 percent of work-capable potential SNAP recipients without dependents would have never been required to look for work even once in order to receive benefits for nearly three decades.

[Jamie Hall, “Geographic-Area Waivers Undermine Food Stamp Work Requirements,” The Heritage Foundation, July 19]

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