SD Rep. introduces bill closing loopholes for able-bodied SNAP recipients

Dusty Johnson wins; fends off third party challenger
Dusty Johnson wins; fends off third party challenger(Dakota News Now)
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 11:02 AM CDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dakota News Now) - U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) introduced the America Works Act, a bill that would work to eliminate wavers to the current federal law that requires able-bodied adults to participate in work, training, or education to continue receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Current federal law requires Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs) younger than 49 years old on SNAP to participate in work, training, or education for 20 hours a week.

Currently, 18 states utilize waivers to exempt individuals from work requirements. Unfortunately, many states abuse these waivers and ignore work requirements for ABAWDs. Johnson’s bill would close the loopholes that allow those waivers. According to data, prior to the pandemic, 1.36 million ABAWD households reported zero dollars in gross income – meaning they did not work at all.

“Work is the best pathway out of poverty,” said Johnson. “Work requirements have proven to be effective, and people who can work should work. With more than 11 million open jobs, there are plenty of opportunities for SNAP recipients to escape poverty and build a better life.”

The America Works Act of 2023:
  • Emphasizes and amends work requirements for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs), requiring childless adults, unless exempted, to work or participate in work-related training or education for at least 20 hours per week to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
  • This bill maintains current law, which states that ABAWDs are subject to a three-month limit of SNAP benefits unless they work 80 hours per month.
  • Raises the age limits of an ABAWD from 18 to 49 to 18 to 65, consistent with the age individuals become eligible for Medicare.
  • Employment projections from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics show that individuals over the age of 55 are projected to assume over 25% of the workforce in 2022.
  • The America Works Act of 2023 eliminates states’ ability to carry over exemption waivers from year to year, reducing instances of stockpiling and hampering abuses of the law.
  • States are currently allowed robust flexibility in managing their SNAP population, with 12% of state caseloads eligible for exemptions from the work requirements.  Johnson’s bill maintains that flexibility, but doesn’t allow states to carry over exemptions year after year.

Read the bill text here.