Work Requirements are Working in Arkansas: How Commonsense Welfare Reform is Improving Arkansans’ Lives

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What is the food stamp work requirement? Under federal law, most able-bodied adults without dependents are required to work, train, or volunteer at least 20 hours per week on average in order to receive food stamps. These requirements apply to non-pregnant adults who are mentally and physically fit for employment, who are between the ages of 18 and 50, and who have no dependent children or incapacitated family members. Enrollees who refuse to meet this requirement for more than three months are removed from the program.

But federal guidance issued during the Clinton administration created new loopholes and gimmicks that undermined these requirements. Worse yet, the Obama administration pressured states into waiving the requirement thus keeping as many able-bodied adults trapped in dependency as possible. As a result, these commonsense requirements are still waived wholly or partially in 33 states and the District of Columbia, despite the fact that employers are trying to fill a record-high seven million open jobs.