SALEM, Ore. — A new federal rule could push at least 19,000 people in Oregon off food stamps next year, according to projections released by the state Department of Human Services.
The projection was released in response to a request from the Statesman Journal, which reported the rule change will leave states with less flexibility in allowing able-bodied adults without children to receive food stamps if they are not working or in a training program at least 20 hours a week.
Such adults typically can only get food stamps for up to three months in a 36-month period. But states can get waivers to provide aid longer if the recipient is in an economically depressed area.
The new rule, which takes effect April 1, would put in place more stringent requirements for when states can receive waivers for counties. Between January and April, Oregon would go from having 31 counties eligible for a waiver to six.
State officials have criticized the planned change.
“This is unfortunately just the latest in a string of unnecessarily punishing policies from the Trump administration, aimed to push down hard-working people doing their best to get themselves on their feet,” said Charles Boyle, a spokesman for Gov. Kate Brown.
The rule change doesn’t affect benefits for children, adults older than 50, or disabled people. Adults with children are not affected.
Nationally, federal officials estimate the change about $5.5 billion over five years and encourage people to look for work.
Food stamps are part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP.