Due to the strong job market, and states looking to find savings in their 2017 fiscal budgets, it is expected that more states will continue to cut back (or end) SNAP food stamp benefits to people that are considered to be ABAWDs. This means that any unemployed, able-bodied adults that do not have kids or someone else depending on them can expected to see a reduction in the amount of aid they get next year.
What many people do not realize is that due to the impact of the 2008 Great Recession on the job market, the federal government worked with states to increase access to SNAP food stamps. It was always intended to be a short term fix. So benefits were extended to millions of adults who can in fact become self-sufficient on their own. Now as many as 1 million of them may be facing a cut back in food stamps during 2017
In fact, adults that were physically able to (but weren’t) working at minimum 20 hours per week or that could participate in an approved job-training program could still get help from SNAP. Those individuals that could train and/or work are considered to be ABAWDs. This relaxation of the rules back in 2008 meant that a healthy adult could still get government benefits.
The reason this was done back then was due to the extraordinarily weak economy. The thought was that even if an adult was healthy, they still may not be able to find a job as the unemployment rate was anywhere from 8 to 10%. So the federal government stepped forward to assist.
Since about 2013 many states, including Wisconsin and New York, started to cut back. They rightfully figured that the job market was strong enough that people could find a job and get 20 hours of work under their belt. And if the beneficiary didn’t do that (or enroll into a job program), SNAP was starting to be cut back.
In is expected that more states will be doing this in 2017 according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. In fact, it may be that anywhere from 500,000 to one million more households will lost SNAP by the end of the year. Those reductions could also continue in the following years, though by the end of 2017 it is expected that very few (if any states) will continue to be creating exceptions for ABAWDs.
We recommend to prepare now. An able-bodied adult without dependents should start to aggressively look for work, as there are millions of jobs available in the US. Or they can look for job training programs to enroll into for new or better work skills. While there SNAP benefits are still being paid out an ABAWD should seek that new opportunity before the aid is cut, or they can find assistance when food stamps have been reduced.
One million households may seem like a big number (and it is to us!) but that is a small fraction of the estimated 42 million Americans that suffer from “food insecurity”. This is only an estimate from the non-profit Feeding America, but it tends to be in sync with other widely reported data from the USDA or other organizations.
The fact is that hunger is a major problem in this country, and really no-one knows the cause or reason for it. Is it because people refuse to work (see the 95 million individuals that are not in the work force), lack of budgeting, cycle of poverty, etc. Sadly, no one knows the reason or the answer.