Generous Federal FoodShare Eligibility Could Neutralize Work Requirements

[Madison, Wisc…] Governor Walker wants 76,000 able-bodied, childless adults to look for work in order to continue collecting FoodShare benefits. However, even if those individuals found work, they might still qualify for the benefits.

Federal law sets food stamp eligibility at 200 percent of the federal poverty level. For a person without any dependents, that comes out to $21,792 a year. Such a person receives $200 a month in FoodShare benefits in Wisconsin.

That means a person who works 40 hours a week for the entire year could make up to $10.47 an hour and not sacrifice any of their FoodShare benefits.

Minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour. If a person on minimum wage worked 40 hours a week all year, they would make $15,080. That’s well within the FoodShare income limits.

Last year, the state spent $1.1 billion on FoodShare benefits for 1.1 million recipients. Of those, about 130,000 were classified as “able-bodied adults without dependent children” or ABAWDs. Many of them received waivers excusing them from work requirements. The last 76,000 did not have waivers, but have not been required to fulfill work requirements either.

Governor Walker wants to begin enforcing work requirements and is requesting $50 million in the budget for a training program ABAWDs without waivers would be required to participate in.

If they do not work or participate in the training program, ABAWDs would only be allowed to collect FoodShare benefits for three months every three years.