Food stamp benefits changes coming

Published 11:21 am Friday, January 15, 2016

0120 food stamp card

A change in the way the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, is administered means some recipients will now be required to work if they want to keep their benefits.

The change comes after the expiration of a federal waiver that allowed some states – including Alabama – to grant exemptions to work requirements for a segment of SNAP recipients. The Jan. 1 change requires all able-bodied unemployed adults ages 18-49 who aren’t disabled or raising minor children to work at least part time in order to maintain their benefits.

Alabama Department of Human Resources statistics show there are 44,386 individuals in the state designated as able-bodied adults without dependents that are impacted by the change. The work requirement for these people began at the first of the year but they will continue to receive benefits for up to three months after that time.

In Alabama, the change means affected people could see their SNAP benefits end April 1. Those recipients receive $194 a month in food stamp assistance.

Previously, states with exemptions due to concerns about unemployment granted SNAP access year-round. The expiration of the exemption limits that to three months within a 3-year time unless recipients are working or participating in a work or training program for at least 20 hours a week.

There are exceptions for those who are physically or mentally unable to work; are pregnant; are the parent or other household member with responsibility for a dependent child under age 18 or someone who is physically or mentally disabled; is caring for an incapacitated person; is a student at least half-time in a school or training program; or is participating in an alcohol/drug treatment program.