Michigan Reinstates Work Requirements for Food Stamps

Published September 22, 2018

Work requirements for food stamp recipients will be enforced in all 83 Michigan counties after having been waived for 16 years.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced plans to begin enforcing provisions of the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 statewide. The state first received a waiver of the provisions from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services in 2002.

Once the work requirements are reinstated on October 1, able-bodied adults without dependents receiving food stamps will be required to work 20 hours a week, volunteer, or engage in job training or other approved educational activities.

Assistance Insurance

Work requirements help ensure assistance is available for those who need truly need it, says Lindsay Killen, vice president for strategic outreach and communications at the Mackinac Center and a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News.

“The food-stamp program exists to help the truly vulnerable,” Killen said. “By requiring able-bodied adults to seek work, we ensure that those most in need can have access to adequate and sustainable resources moving forward.”

Killen says work requirements lighten the burden on taxpayers so the programs can remain available.

“The number of able-bodied adults on welfare is creating an unsustainable burden on taxpayers in Michigan and causing unmet needs as our economy continues to improve and create more jobs,” Killen says. “By helping these individuals become independent, we also help our states grow and prosper. [Work requirements] realign incentives within our welfare system that encourage, reward, and restore the dignity of work.”

A State-Based Solution

Daniel Savickas, federal affairs manager at FreedomWorks, says enforcement of work requirements is an important state-level reform lawmakers everywhere should consider.

“The needs of each state and the citizens of those states are not the same,” Savickas said. “Each state should be able to implement its own work requirements on its own terms to help its struggling population out of poverty and into the workforce. Failure to address this at the state level will lead to costly federal interventions into the economy and one-size-fits-all solutions that just won’t work. State-level work requirements help each state maximize its efficiency in dealing with poverty within its borders and will save state, local, and national taxpayers money in the long-run.”

Helping People Help Themselves

Savickas says work requirements are an effective way to cure poverty.

“Work requirements help raise people out of poverty and towards self-dependence in a more efficient manner than other solutions,” Savickas said. “It costs more to add people to the welfare caseloads already being undertaken by the government than it does to implement policies that help these individuals transition out of poverty. Work requirements emphasize the dignity of work and promote independence from government handouts.”

Savickas says the requirements help reengage people with the world of work and self-reliance.

 “It gives them the opportunity to find employment and gain experience and connections to be successful going forward,” Savickas said. “It gives them the opportunity to participate in job training or education programs that give them knowledge that will help them in job searches in the future,” Savickas said.