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FGA Research Shows States Still Abusing Food Stamp Loopholes

Naples, FL —  New research from the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) shows that more than one-third of the country still lives in an area where childless, able-bodied adults are waived from food stamp work requirements. According to the research, 2.6 million able-bodied adults could be exempt from commonsense work requirements in 2019.

Federal loopholes allow states to use old unemployment data or gerrymander jurisdictions in order to waive as many able-bodied adults from work requirements as possible. Some states, like Illinois and California, combine all but one or two counties into one waived economic area, essentially rendering work requirements useless.

Out of the over 1,100 waived jurisdictions in January 2019, only 23 had unemployment rates over 10 percent, the level required by federal statute. Nearly 1,000 had unemployment rates under six percent. USDA is currently considering a rule that would crack down on this waiver abuse.

“This research shows clearly that states continue to exploit loopholes in the food stamp program in order to let able-bodied adults avoid basic work requirements,” said Sam Adolphsen, vice president of executive affairs at FGA and one of the paper’s authors. “The Trump administration has taken steps to close these loopholes, but more can be done to move millions back to the work. Waivers from work should be limited to areas where there are not enough jobs within commuting distance. This will help the Trump administration move millions off welfare and into the workforce.”

The full study can be read here. The research expands upon an earlier 2018 study by FGA that first outlined work requirement waiver abuse.


The Foundation for Government Accountability is a non-profit, multi-state think tank that specializes in health care, welfare, and work reform. To learn more, visit

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