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food stamp waivers

New Report Highlights How the Trump Administration Can Move Millions Back to Work

Naples, FL — A new report by the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) highlights how tightening a proposed federal rule could help move more able-bodied adults from welfare to work.

In December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a proposed rule to crack down on states’ abuse of food stamp work requirement waivers. According to the report, the proposed rule could be strengthened by using commuting zones as the criterion for evaluating work requirement waivers, ensuring waivers aren’t granted in regions with low unemployment.

Despite near record-low unemployment, nearly one-third of the country is exempt from food stamp work requirements. States have exploited loopholes to waive work requirements by combining jurisdictions that do not independently qualify for a waiver into a single, qualifying area. The proposed rule takes important steps to address this problem, but leaves room for improvement.

Commuting zones connect rural areas with nearby employment centers, giving a more accurate picture of economic areas and areas of insufficient jobs. By eliminating waivers in commuting zones with low unemployment, the number of able-bodied adults waived from work requirement could be cut by nearly two million, a drop of nearly 75 percent.

“The proposed rule is an opportunity to correct decades worth of bad policy, but it does not go far enough in moving able-bodied adults back to work,” said Jonathan Ingram, vice president of Research at FGA. “If USDA utilizes commuting zones to evaluate waivers, the Trump administration can end waiver abuse and help more able-bodied adults experience the power of work, all while saving taxpayers billions of dollars.”

The full report can be viewed here.


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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