Government assistance to require employment or job training in 2017

It is expected that the trend to require able bodied adults to take personal responsibility for their financial futures will accelerate during 2017. Many more states are requiring people on government assistance to work. Or if they can’t do that for some reason, then they will need to either volunteer to do community service and/or participate in some form of job training program.

This will apply to adults who are physically and mentally able to work. More states are mandating these changes or they are submitting proposals to the federal government to do this. So before a state will provide benefits such as SNAP food stamps or Medicaid the applicant will need to do their part to in effect “earn” that government aid.

This type of requirement is already in effect for some programs, mostly TANF welfare. The Clinton administration made this requirement back in the 1990s as part of the 1996 federal welfare law. But there has not been as much emphasis on this type of requirement since then or it has not been as standard across the nation. You should expect that to change during 2017.

Changes occurring in 2017

As of the last couple of years, some states have started to enforce the work requirement for SNAP food stamps recipients. States will require able bodies adults to participate in some form of job training or be employed before any application has been approved. The trend in states mandating this has requirement has greatly accelerated since the end of the great recession. Since we are entering 2017 with the strongest job market in at least 10 years, we think this trend for SNAP will accelerate.

Another government assistance program that may start down this path in 2017 is Medicaid. As Obamacare is repealed, and with the new Republican administration, it is expected that more states will mandate employment or some form of job-training requirements. Some have already started down that path, such as Arizona.

Any changes made to Medicaid work requirements during 2017 could impact tens of millions of people. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that about 40% of able bodied adults who received government health insurance benefits are not employed. So if 40% of the total 70+ million Medicaid recipients are impacted, this means that as many as 28 Million Americans will be at risk of losing their health care unless they are taking on personal responsibility.

Many of these mandates will be determined at the state level. Generally each state will need to submit a proposal to the federal government to start down this path. While there are never any guarantees, it would not surprise us if the current Republican administration starts to give much more leeway to states to set rules around receiving government aid.

Those rules are bound to require the person to work at least 20 hours per week. Or if that is not possible, then they may either need to volunteer and also participate in training for about 20 hours per week. The rules may follow the same guidelines as set by that 1996 federal welfare law.

The argument behind these changes is to ensure people take on personal responsibility for their own actions. It will ensure people learn to live independent and gain self-sufficiency. It may also help states save money on their 2017 fiscal as well as future budgets, and it will also reduce fraud and abuse in the system.

Sadly there are people who just never want to contribute to society but want free government aid. While we try to believe this is a small number, the facts are that it exists. And even a “small” number could equate to millions of people. So anyone who is currently on government assistance should keep a close watch on any rule changes for their state, and be prepared for major changes in 2017 and over the next couple of years.

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