Almost 700K Americans lose access to food stamps under new eligibility rules

Some 688,000 food stamp recipients will have to find work by April or risk losing benefits as the Trump administration issues a final rule making it harder for states to get exemptions from work requirements

Some 688,000 food stamp recipients will have to find work by April or risk losing benefits as the Trump administration issues a final rule making it harder for states to get exemptions from work requirements

The Trump administration is tightening work requirements for the federal food stamp program in a move that would slash benefits for hundreds of thousands of people.

The new rule changes the criteria for allowing waivers, making fewer eligible to receive SNAP benefits beyond the three-month limit. More than 36 million Americans now receive SNAP benefits.

Scaling back public benefits for low-income Americans has always been a Trump administration priority.

The latest rule will take effect next year and save the government $5.5bn over five years by removing about 688,000 people from the food stamps rolls, said Brandon Lipps, a USDA deputy undersecretary.

Under the proposed version of the work requirement rule, the USDA had estimated that about 750,000 recipients would lose benefits.

The new rules will be enacted in April 2020.

"Now, in the midst of the strongest economy in a generation, we need everyone who can work, to work", said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, citing the low 3.6% national unemployment rate.

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"This administration is out of touch with families who are struggling to make ends meet by working seasonal jobs or part time jobs with unreliable hours", said Stabenow, the top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry.

The food stamp program, however, already requires non-disabled, working-age adults without dependents to have jobs.

But the new rules affect only the "poorest of the poor", said Ray Castro, health policy director for New Jersey Policy Perspective, a progressive research group.

"Pay attention. This is what cruelty looks like", tweeted the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in response to the completed rule, which would be the first of a series of proposed food stamp cuts to take effect.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., blasted the Trump administration's efforts to reduce public benefits.

"Instead of combating food insecurity for millions, connecting workers to good-paying jobs or addressing income inequality, the administration is inflicting their draconian rule on millions of Americans across the nation who face the highest barriers to employment and economic stability", Pelosi said in a statement.

"If the rule is implemented, the nation would see higher rates of hunger and poverty", Weill said in a statement. "Even if adults are playing by all the rules and looking for work, they will now be much more likely to lose all of their nutritional assistance".

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