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Ga. Cuts food stamps for thousands with new receivers for system tracking



Last week, the Trump administration announced plans to increase the enforcement of a 22-year law that removes food stamps from certain non-working adults.

But according to the states, Georgia is well ahead of Washington. In 2018, the National Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, increased the number of people who were removed from the program due to workload.

In the six months from October 2017 to March 2018, the state removed an average of 356 people per month from food stamps in order not to meet the work requirements.

From April to October of this year, the average increased 20-fold – to nearly 8,000 per month

One of those who had lost his food stamp was the 25-year-old resident of Covington, Miraco Belcher. Belcher had done a series of camp jobs until he was injured in a car accident and broke his spine. Since the accident he suffers from seizures, especially with bright or flashing lights, which complicates his work.

Belcher applied for disability pensions in social security, but the trial of these services may take years. In August, he was labeled "able" and unemployed, which is why the state removed him from the SNAP program.

"I have been without stamps for two months now. It hurts, "he said in an October interview. "I can not work and I can not get money for food."

Belcher was puzzled by the message he received from the state, which ended the performance.

"If I could work, I would not need to do these stamps," he said, "I just do not really understand it."

Belcher cleared that up and got his family doctor to vouch for him, while awaiting his final disability decision, his benefits were reassumed last month, he is happy, many low-income people do not have a regular doctor to request such a note.

"I'm not sure what Customers should do so when they receive these letters (from DFCS), "said David Deganian, an Atlanta lawyer who represents Belcher in his disability claim." Most doctors do not want this if they do not have chronological (records of) treatment . "

This graph shows the number of Abandoned Adult Workers (ABAWDs) who were removed from the State Food Stamp Program monthly Rural Department for Family and Children's Aid for Failure to Comply with a Work Requirement. CHRIS JOYNER / [email protected]
(The Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Most recipients are families

The work requirements were adopted in 1996 and require that adults between the ages of 18 and 49 who are not disabled and are not dependent have to work at least 20 hours per week or undergo any kind of training or work training. The food stamp program refers to these individuals as ABAWDs, short for working adults without dependents.

The law gives them three months to meet the work requirement or lose the benefit. During the Great Recession, the federal government relaxed these rules and lifted the deadline for entire states or parts of states that were affected by higher unemployment.

Georgia was one of the federal states with a nationwide waiver, but in recent years The state has gradually removed them from the federal states, as the economy has improved and unemployment has declined. Another factor that drives the dramatic increase in the take-up of working adults is the new state data management system – "Georgia Gateway" – which gives DFCS officials a clearer picture of the life of recipients of food stamps.

"This system gives us more data elements than our other entitlement systems," said Jon Anderson, DFCS Office of Family Independence Head. "We are more confident that the system can identify ABAWDs than we did in previous systems."

The increased use of labor demand affects only a small minority of the state's 1.5 million food stamp recipients.

In Georgia Only about 8 percent of the population receiving food stamps are physically-active adults without children, while 71 percent of food-label recipients are families with dependent children. One third of the recipients are families with elderly or disabled relatives.

Proponents of low-income Georgians worry that the state is forcing the population to remove people from the food stamp program, ignoring the difficulty and some adults have found work.

"People who can use and work with SNAP are doing a job," said Alex Carmardelle, senior political scientist at the liberally designed Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. "If you do not work and receive SNAP, this is for a good reason."


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