Today, the Trump administration published a final rule that will weaken SNAP by imposing time limits and work requirements. By USDA’s own estimates, this change will result in nearly 700,000 people losing benefits.
This rule will subject more able-bodied adults without dependents to the requirement that they work or participate in work activities for 20 hours a week in order to receive SNAP benefits for more than three months in a 36 month period. We strongly oppose this policy and the decision to narrow states’ ability to waive time limits in areas where there are many unemployed adults and too few jobs. Rather than promoting increased employment, research suggests that time limits instead harm health and productivity. What’s more, data show the overwhelming majority of SNAP participants who struggle to meet the 20 hours of work per week requirement are not uninterested in working, but instead are experiencing the consequences of volatility in the low-wage labor market, caregiving duties, or personal health issues.
The Children’s Defense Fund urged the Administration to withdraw this rule earlier this year. While current law does not permit SNAP time limits for children or adults with children, we remain concerned that the rule’s devastating impact will also unduly harm children as children living in poverty often depend on pooled resources (including SNAP benefits) from extended family members who do not claim them as dependents.
This rule is one of many recent attempts by the Trump Administration to take food from hungry families. Early this week, the Children’s Defense Fund submitted comments against another proposed rule that would cut benefits by limiting state flexibility to set the Standard Utility Allowance (SUA), and in September we submitted comments against a proposed rule that would limit the broad-based categorical eligibility (BBCE) option and result in over 3 million people losing food assistance and over 500,000 children losing their automatic eligibility for free school meals.
SNAP currently helps feed 19.9 million children – more than 1 in 4 – and prevents children and families from going hungry. Given its critical role in reducing child hunger and lifting families out of poverty, we must work to strengthen SNAP rather than weaken this critical program.