Building on Success: Congress should expand work requirements in food stamps

Executive summary

For years, millions of able-bodied adults have been trapped in welfare dependency with little hope of a better life. Enrollment and spending have skyrocketed to historic levels recently, leaving fewer resources for individuals who have true need.

Thankfully, states have begun reversing Obama-era policies, reinstating work requirements, and moving younger able-bodied adults out of welfare and back into the workforce. But one group has been tragically left behind: middle-age able-bodied adults.

This group—able-bodied, childless adults between the ages 50 to 64—are currently exempt from food stamp work requirements, despite the fact that they have no dependent children or disabilities that keep them from seeking gainful employment. But without work requirements, they are left to languish in welfare indefinitely.

This is a devastating reality for millions of individuals. Trapped in welfare, without work, they are signifcantly more likely to be stuck in a life of poverty and despair. Conversely, just one out of every 100 middle-age full-time workers is below the poverty line.

To finish the great work that states have already begun, Congress should expand existing work requirements to middle-age able-bodied adults. In so doing, they will lift millions of Americans out of welfare, save taxpayers billions annually, and free up resources for individuals who truly need help.