Michigan re-instituted its work requirements for food stamp recipients as of Oct 1. Now “able-bodied” adults have to work a minimum of 20 hours per week or risk getting cut off the program, WXYZ reports.
The federal work requirements have returned after being waived in 2002 because of high unemployment rates.
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, unemployed adults ages 18 to 49 who do not have dependents, and those who aren’t disabled or otherwise exempt, will have to be employed to keep benefits.
Recipients will have benefits renewed yearly and since the Oct. 1 date has passed, they will have three months to begin work or lose benefits.
In a statement released to 7 Action News in 2017, MDHHS said that the “phasing out” of work requirements “goes along with the MDHHS goal of assisting Michiganders in finding employment to achieve self-sufficiency, end generational poverty and realize their dreams.”
Some 70,000 people in 69 Michigan counties who receive taxpayer-funded food assistance, may be affected.
“Reinstating these works requirements will allow the department to move more people toward self-sufficiency,” Michigan Department of Health & Human Services Public Information Officer Bob Wheaton told Watchdog.org.
“We are referring people who are affected to job training programs so that they are better able to find employment and become self-sufficient.”
Recipients are not mandated to work at least 20 hours a week or participate in a state-approved employment training program for 20-hours a week on average, or volunteer at a nonprofit.
“Our department’s goal is to provide safety net assistance to people while we remove any barriers to self-sufficiency,” Wheaton said.
“Reinstating these work requirements are consistent with that goal.”
Holly Wetzel, communications coordinator at the Michigan-based, free-market think tank the Mackinac Center, agrees with reinstating the work requirements.
“Work requirements benefit the individual, taxpayers and the economy because they realign incentives within our welfare system that encourage, reward, and restore the dignity of work,” Wetzel told Watchdog.org.