The number of food stamp recipients nationwide ballooned under former President Barack Obama, but the number of people relying on government aid for groceries in two southern states has significantly declined in recent months, according to Fox News.
Alabama and Georgia both implemented new work requirements for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents who are between the ages of 18 and 49. The 1996 welfare reform bill required that these individuals work while receiving benefits, but the Obama administration allowed states to waive the requirement in 2009 amid the economic crisis. That resulted in more than 48 million food stamp beneficiaries in the U.S. by 2013.
Alabama and Georgia were two of the states to voluntarily waive the work requirement, only to reinstate the rule again this year.
According to the 1996 welfare reform law, ABAWD are only eligible to receive food stamp benefits for three months unless they spend at least 20 hours per week working or spend the same amount of time each week in a job training program. ABAWD who agree to these requirements can stay on food stamps for up to 36 months.
A 2012 Congressional Research Study looked at the number of ABAWD receiving food stamps during the first few years of the Obama administration, and found that between 2008 and 2010, the number of beneficiaries literally doubled. In 2008, there were 1.9 million ABAWD in 2008. In 2010, there were 3.9 million ABAWD on food stamps.
“Welfare was never intended to be a one-way handout, but a program based on the idea of reciprocity,” Robert Rector, fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington, D.C., told Fox News.
“Those who receive benefits from the government should be required to work or participate in work-training as a condition,” Rector said.
That’s exactly what Alabama and Georgia started to require once again this year — and the results just don’t lie.
In Alabama, the state government began to require this year that able-bodied adults without dependents in 13 of its counties either have a job or go through a work training program while receiving benefits. The result has been a staggering 85 percent decrease in the number of food stamp beneficiaries in those counties.
As of Jan. 1, 2017, there were 13,663 able-bodied adults without dependents receiving food stamps statewide. That number dropped to 7,483 by May 1, 2017. Among the 13 counties, there were 5,538 adults ages 18-50 without dependents receiving food stamps as of Jan. 1, 2017. That number dropped to 831 — a decline of about 85 percent — by May 1, 2017.
And in Georgia, state lawmakers began requiring this year that ABAWD in 21 of its counties either hold a job or complete job training as a condition of receiving food stamps. So far, the requirement has resulted in a 62 percent drop in the number of beneficiaries in those same 21 counties.
When the April 1 deadline came around for them to find work, more than half — 7,251 — were dropped from the program, according to state figures released this week. Essentially, the number of recipients spiraled down from 11,779 to 4,528, or a drop of 62 percent.
Georgia will expand the work requirement for ABAWD to 60 more counties in 2018. By 2019, the rule will go into effect in all 159 Georgia counties, according to the Journal-Constitution.
Alabama and Georgia implemented the work requirements after Maine, which also voluntarily waived work requirements for ABAWD during the Obama administration, began asking those individuals in 2014 to either start working or complete a job training program as conditions for receiving food stamp benefits. As a result, the number of ABAWD in Maine decreased from 235,771 in January 2014 to 201,557 in January 2015 — a 14.5 percent reduction in just one year.
Rector told Fox News that the work requirement could save Maine taxpayers as much as $8.4 billion per year.
In 2013, Kansas implemented similar work requirements for ABAWD on food stamps after voluntarily waiving the condition during the Obama presidency. Three years later, in 2016, there were 75 percent fewer ABAWDs on food stamps, according to the Foundation for Government Accountability.
At the federal level, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) have introduced bills that would require ABAWDs to work while receiving benefits.
“We should be incentivizing work, not providing a disincentive to find a job, which is a good thing both for the taxpayer as well as for the beneficiary. The focus of these programs should be on how we can help adults get their families to a better way of life,” Jordan told Fox News.
(H/T: Daily Caller)