Waivers Gone Wild: How States Are Still Fostering Dependency

Despite today’s booming economy, the number of ablebodied adults who receive food stamps remains near record high levels. States report that 4.1 million able-bodied adults without dependents are expected to be enrolled in the program over the course of fiscal year 2019.

That is more than four times as many as were enrolled between 2000 and 2008. Federal law generally requires able-bodied adults without dependents to work, train, or volunteer at least part-time to maintain food stamp eligibility. These rules apply to nonpregnant adults who are between the ages of 18 and 50, who are mentally and physically fit for employment, and who have no dependent children or incapacitated family members living at home.

But states have used loopholes and gimmicks to waive these work requirements in as many jurisdictions as possible. Congress intended for these waivers to be limited in nature, meant only for areas with unemployment rates above 10 percent or that otherwise lacked job opportunities for ablebodied adults.