Virginia Poverty Law Center: Insulting to call people ‘lazy’ because they need help
U.S. & World

Virginia Poverty Law Center: Insulting to call people ‘lazy’ because they need help

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A proposed debt ceiling deal is on the table and while it appears to be better than the proposed House bill, it remains “cruel and insulting” to low-income individuals and children, according to The Virginia Poverty Law Center.

President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy agreed to a proposal over the long Memorial Day weekend. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he also supports the agreement and will work to get the necessary votes by the June 5 deadline.

“People who are struggling because of low-paying and unstable employment, trying to overcome disabilities, or taking care of their children or elderly parents are not lazy but in need of some assistance. It is insulting to call them lazy either explicitly or implicitly,” a news release from VPLC said.

According to VPLC, both the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) already have strict work requirements.

“However, these requirements have been shown time and time again to be ineffective in lifting families out of poverty and do more harm than good to an already vulnerable population,” according to VPLC.

VPLC breaks it down

  • SNAP currently has a “work requirement” for individuals between the ages of 18 and 49 who do not have children. However, a more appropriate term for these requirements would be time limits.
  • Individuals can only receive SNAP benefits for three months within a 36-month period if they work less than 80 hours per month.
  • People who lose their jobs and cannot find another one within three months will lose their SNAP benefits.
  • The proposed debt ceiling agreement raises the age limit to 54, a population that faces even greater difficulty finding employment, with few exceptions.
  • Virginia’s Department of Social Services is already overwhelmed with staff shortages, making it difficult to contact a caseworker.
  • You can only receive TANF for up to five years. Once you hit that five-year limit, you can no longer in your lifetime be eligible for TANF again unless you meet one of a limited number of exceptions.
  • In Virginia, you can only be eligible for TANF for 24 months at a time.

The average TANF recipient makes very little income and the TANF benefit is often insufficient to lift them out of poverty, the release said.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.