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WASHINGTON, D.C.–One in ten people in Indiana are on food stamps, known now as SNAP benefits, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The president and the Secretary of Agriculture said today they plan to propose a new rule that would get able-bodied people off SNAP.

The rule is intended to move people to “self-sufficiency through the dignity of work”. 

In Indiana:

  • About 1 in 10 people are on SNAP (below the national average of 13 persent)
  • The average monthly benefits in Indiana is about $118
  • Three quarters on SNAP participants in Indiana have kids
  • Most people in Indiana on SNAP are poor

“The rule is meant to restore the system to what it was meant to be: assistance through difficult times, not lifelong dependency,” said a news release from the USADA, the agency that oversees SNAP. “Over time, without any changes in the underlying welfare reform legislation of 1996, that ideal has been watered down by out-of-control administrative flexibility in SNAP.”

Some of that flexibility has included waivers for states with higher unemployment, at the discretion of the USDA. Under a rule created in 2008, a person without kids can’t be on food stamps for more than three months in a three-year period, unless they are working more than 80 hours per month.

“Long-term reliance on government assistance has never been part of the American dream,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. 

“As we make benefits available to those who truly need them, we must also encourage participants to take proactive steps toward self-sufficiency. Moving people to work is common-sense policy, particularly at a time when the unemployment rate is at a generational low,” said Perdue.

The new rule would apply to non-disabled people, between the ages of 18 and 49, with no dependents. The rule would not apply to the elderly, the disabled, or pregnant women.

Under current SNAP requirements, people who get SNAP, must work or participate in an employment program for at least 20 hours a week to continue to receive benefits for more than three months over a three-year period. 

About three quarters of people on food stamps in 2016 were not working.

“Americans are generous people who believe it is their responsibility to help their fellow citizens when they encounter a difficult stretch,” Perdue said. “That is the commitment behind SNAP. But like other federal welfare programs, it was never intended to be a way of life.”

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says most people who get SNAP in Indian are poor. The average SNAP benefit for Hoosiers is $118 per month. About three quarters of people who get food stamps in Indiana have children, so the new rule would not apply to them.

PHOTO: Getty Images/benkrut