Despite 10-year-low unemployment, California took advantage of loopholes in federal regulation to keep more than 800,000 federal welfare recipients from having to work.
This conclusion is based on the response of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to an application to waive SNAP's work requirements for 55 of California's 58 counties, issued to the state in July and recently obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
California's waiver, which will last until August of 2019, exempts more than 800,000 able-bodied, childless Californians from having to work while on SNAP. This in spite of the fact that California's unemployment rate—4.2 percent—is at its lowest level in at least 10 years.
About 42 million people nationwide receive federal welfare benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Some SNAP recipients—able-bodied adults without dependents, commonly called "ABAWDs"—are required under law to work at least 20 hours a week, or spend equivalent time in education and training programs, in order to continue receiving SNAP benefits. If an ABAWD fails to meet these requirements for three months, they lose their benefits.
States can receive waivers, however, exempting ABAWDs from work requirements if the state faces certain conditions. ABAWDs can be exempted in a given county for either of two reasons: (1) if the unemployment rate in that county is higher than 10 percent or (2) if the average unemployment rate in the county over a given two-year period is 20 percent higher than the national unemployment rate in the same two-year period.