SNAP adds work provision for benefits

Published 10:24 am Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Effective January, certain able-bodied Mississippians enrolled in the Supplemental Nutritional Assisstance Program, or food stamps, will be required to work with public and private non-profits to “earn” the assistance they receive. In Lincoln County, there are approximately 600 people who will need to be placed in or exempted from the program.

SNAP regulations limit eligibility for able-bodied adults without dependants (ABAWD) to three months in any 36-month period unless the individual meets the ABAWD work requirement or is otherwise exempt.

“For years Mississippi has received a waiver for this program, we didn’t have to do it,” said Eleanor Monroe, county director of Lincoln County Department of Human Services. “That is coming back into effect. If you are an able-bodied person without dependants you will be required to work a certain number of hours.”

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Starting Jan. 1, the statewide ABAWD time limit will be re-implemented, where all SNAP household members 18 to 49, not otherwise exempt, must meet work requirements to remain eligible. ABAWDs can meet the requirement by:

• Working 20 or more hours per week or an average of 80 hours monthly;

• Participating in an allowable work activity for 20 or more hours a week;

• A combination of working and participating in an allowable work activity for 20 or more hours per week;

• Participating in a workfare assignment for the required number of hours each week.

The SNAP three-month time limit does not apply to individuals who are:

• Responsible for a dependant child or residing with a household member under the age of 18;

• Pregnant;

• Determined as physically or mentally incapacitated

• Exempt from work requirements.

“We can only place them in private or public nonprofit agencies, and there aren’t a lot of those in Lincoln County,” Monroe said. “So I would need help with that from the county, and or the city, to get them set up with places like [Brookhaven Outreach Ministries], where the able-bodied people can go to meet the work requirement.”

In lieu of wages workfare participants receive compensation in the form of their household’s monthly SNAP benefit allotment. Monthly work hours are determined by applying the FLSA calculation — dividing the household’s monthly allotment by the federal minimum wage. A transportation stipend will be provided to each individual.

Monroe said it will probably take until February to sort out the 600 people in Lincoln County according to eligibility requirements. Monroe asked the Board of Supervisors to evaluate where they might need help, and she would get with them at the end of the month.