by Jadranko Tomic-Bobas, Managing Hotline Attorney
The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that “[m]ore than 500,000 and as many as 1 million of the nation’s poorest people will be cut off SNAP over the course of 2016.” SNAP rules require all recipients meet work requirements, unless they are exempt because of age or disability or another specific reason. The work requirements have been part of the law since 1996. Under the law, states can request to temporarily waive the ABAWD (Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents) time limits when unemployment is persistently high or when there are not enough jobs available.
With a recovering economy and with unemployment numbers dropping the time limits are coming back. The basic time limit rule is that SNAP benefits are limited to 3 full months in any 3-year period for an individual between the ages 18 and 49. Unless the individual is working 20 hours per week, is in a qualified job slot for 20 hours a week or doing workfare, or meets one of the limited exemptions.
Who is considered an ABAWD?
- Individual between ages 18 and 49.
- Who has no dependents, and
- Is not disabled.
Who is exempt from the rule?
- Those living in a high unemployment waived area.
- Under 18 or 50 years old or older.
- Residing in a household with a member under 18.
- Physically and mentally unfit to work.
- Already exempt from SNAP work requirements.
- Responsible for the care of a child or an incapacitated person.
- Receiving or applied for unemployment compensation.
- Participating in a drug or alcohol rehab program, or
- A student who is enrolled at least half-time.
- Is eligible for any optional state exemption.
“The loss of … food assistance, which averages approximately $150 to $170 per person per month … will cause serious hardship among many.” “USDA data shows that the individuals likely to be cut off by the three-month limit have average monthly income of approximately 17 percent of the poverty line, and they typically qualify for no other income support.” According to Nickie Perera at the Center for Civil Justice, Michigan has had a waiver since 2003 due to high unemployment. However, unemployment rates have dropped in Kent, Ottawa, Oakland, and Washtenaw Counties. The waiver is set to expire in those four counties on December 31, 2016. It is estimated that approximately 15,000 people will be impacted. The other 79 MIchigan counties will be under waiver until June 30, 2017. The time limit notices have been sent out in the four Counties listed above. The effective date of the time limit rule is January 2017.