Food Stamp Recipients, Advocates Sue Over Work Requirements

Photo Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty

Photo Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty

Most Americans agree that able-bodied adults should be required to do some type of work to receive welfare assistance. But two nonprofit groups and a handful of food stamp recipients in New Mexico are suing the state for trying to encourage just that.

Last Friday, a New Mexico district judge placed a temporary hold on the work requirements, which were set to go into effect Nov. 1. On Wednesday of this week, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez announced that the state would restart the process of putting the work requirements into place rather than going through the litigation process. The state will pursue the same work requirements.

While the food stamp program doesn’t have much of a work requirement, it does have a modest one for able-bodied adults without children (or other dependents). Able-bodied adults without children are limited to three months of food stamp benefits unless they work or participate in some type of work activity for at least 20 hours a week. However, since 2009 New Mexico—along with many other states—has received a federal waiver allowing them to bypass the work requirement. But New Mexico has decided to forego the waiver. The state also plans to insert modest work requirements for other able-bodied adults who don’t have young children (under age 6), requiring them to look for work or participate in community service.

But the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and the Southwest Organizing Project say that work requirements are unfair and are suing the New Mexico Human Services Department.

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