WASHINGTON, DC – Today the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a final rule that promotes increased economic opportunity for Americans through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The “SNAP: Requirements for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents” rule makes commonsense changes which emphasize workforce participation for able-bodied, working-age adults between the ages of 18 and 49. The rule does not apply to children and their parents, individuals over the age of 50, and pregnant women or individuals with disabilities.

States are currently allowed broad authority to waive existing requirements that able-bodied, working-age adults without dependents be employed or participate in education or workforce training. The final rule sets new, more realistic expectations about participation in the food stamp program, while setting clearer and more measurable standards that reflect current positive economic conditions.

“The biggest need I hear about from Kentucky employers is for more skilled employees to fill critical gaps in our workforce,” Congressman Comer said. “In a time when the economy is strong and the unemployment rate is low, we should be empowering able-bodied, working-age adults - particularly those without children - to contribute to our economy. This new rule, along with increased support from USDA for workforce training initiatives, will be a key step in that effort.” 

The significant increase in SNAP recipients, even during the longest period of economic expansion in American history, reflects the need for work-centered changes to the program. In 2000, an unemployment rate of 4.0% coincided with 17 million Americans receiving food stamps. Currently, 36 million Americans are SNAP beneficiaries, even with a strong economy and a low unemployment rate of 3.6%.

The rule is set to take effect on April 1, 2020. For more information on the interim final rule, please visit USDA’s website: https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/fr-120419