If you are on a welfare program called SNAP in Tennessee, there are major changes ahead. Governor Bill Haslam says work requirements will be re-established for most able-bodied adults.
They were waived nearly ten years ago during the economic recession.
The Governor says work requirements for 58,000 able-bodied Tennessee adults will be re-instated on February first of next year.
Most welfare reforms in Tennessee requiring some work for those on the program began in the 1990s with national welfare reforms under the Clinton administration. Most states waived those work requirements in 2008 during the recession.
Monday at the capitol, the Governor and Tennessee Human Services now want to the reinstate most of those work requirements.
“We did take a look at the poverty rate, the unemployment rate, the per capita income rate as well as labor surplus, so we did not enter into this decision lightly,” says Dept. Of Human Services Commissioner Danielle Barnes.
First, those with dependents on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as the food stamps program, remain exempt from the work requirements.
About a million Tennesseans are on SNAP.
The 58,000 able-bodied Tennesseans who would be required to work beginning February 1st can do it in several ways.
- 20 hours weekly on job
- or 20 hours weekly in training or education
- or 20 hours weekly in an approved volunteer program.
25 counties who still have high unemployment or a labor surplus will be exempt from the new requirements. The Governor says the changes come about because Tennessee has record low unemployment and job growth.
“The law passed in 1996 said that if you were an able-bodied adult and don’t have dependents, you are supposed to be looking for work or getting an education,” says Gov. Haslam.
The Governor says other states around the country have reinstated some of most of the work requirements for the SNAP benefits. The governor said he plans further changes to the state’s welfare program called TANF during the upcoming session, which encourages self-sufficiency with more incentives to work.