Several changes are coming to SNAP benefits beginning next month, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service confirmed.
SNAP, which stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, used to be called the Food Stamp Program. Over the next year, small changes to eligibility will take effect as a result of the debt ceiling bill, the Fiscal Responsibility Act, signed by President Joe Biden in June, WHNT reports.
The changes only affect one group of SNAP recipients: able-bodied adults without dependents (or ABAWDs, as the agency calls them), ages 50 to 54.
ABAWDs between the ages of 18 and 49 already need to prove they are working at least 80 hours a month, pursuing an education or in a training program to qualify for SNAP for more than three months.
Now, starting on Sept. 1, able-bodied childless workers who are 50 years old will also need to meet those work requirements to receive SNAP benefits.
Starting on Oct. 1, the age requirements will be expanded up to 52. Then next year, on Oct. 1, 2024, the age requirement will expand again to 54.
However, there are three new exemptions to those ABAWD work requirements, a USDA spokesperson told Nexstar. Homeless people, veterans, or youth ages 18 to 24 who aged out of foster care are all exempt from these requirements.
People who cannot work due to a physical or mental limitation, are pregnant, or have a child 18 or younger living in their home will also be exempt.
But while there are more groups of people that can now be considered exempt from work requirements, state agencies that administer SNAP benefits are not going to be allowed to grant exemptions as frequently.
“State agencies’ annual allotment of individual ABAWD discretionary exemptions will be reduced from 12 percent to 8 percent of the caseload subject to the ABAWD time limit as of October 1, 2023,” a USDA spokesperson said.
If you don’t meet the work requirements, you will only be eligible for SNAP for three months of benefits in a three-year period.
These requirements are set to expire on Oct. 1, 2030.