WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- About 6 million U.S. residents list government-issued food stamps as their only income, statistics indicate.
State data collected by The New York Times and published Sunday shows these Americans claim that food stamps are the only income they have -- they say they receive no welfare benefits, pensions, unemployment insurance, disability pay or child support.
The newspaper said the number of such people has soared by about 50 percent during the past two years as eligibility requirements for cash welfare payments have been tightened, and that about one in 50 Americans now live in households with a reported income consisting of nothing but food stamps.
The quick surge in such Americans has reportedly caught policymakers off guard. The Times said such food stamp recipients range from laid-off former executives to homeless people, and that they rely on food stamps to survive.
"We're at risk of creating an entire class of people, a subset of people, just comfortable getting by living off the government," U.S. Rep. John Linder, R-Ga., told the Times.