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New work requirements for SNAP benefits from October: who will be affected?

Over the last two months, work requirements for able-bodied adults in their early fifties have been implemented. Who will be effected?

US Financial News: news summary | 15 July 2023
Mario AnzuoniREUTERS

At the beginning of each fiscal year, which for the US government begins on 1 October, the US Department of Agriculture, the agency responsible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), makes adjustments to account for the impact of inflation on benefits. This year, as a result of legislation passed by Congress in the spring, the USDA will also be tightening the eligibility requirements to receive SNAP benefits.

What is SNAP?

SNAP, formally known as food stamps, is a federal program, administered by the states, that helps low-income individuals and families purchase food.

Beneficiaries are given an Electronic Benefits Transfer debit card (EBT), onto which money is loaded each month for use at stores that accept the benefits. Most major grocery chains in the US accept SNAP benefits as a form of payment.

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How will SNAP eligibility requirements change?

From 1 October, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, which is responsible for establishing the eligibility criteria for SNAP, will update the criteria for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) wishing to benefit from the scheme. Changes to eligibility were agreed to by Democrats and Republicans during the negotiations over the debt ceiling, with the White House conceding to the GOP’s request on this front in order to reach a deal.

The new rules, which were authorized by under the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, will increase the age range for ABAWDs who must meet certain work requirements from 18-50 to 18-52.

This comes a month after the age of this age limit was raised from 49.

What are ABAWD work requirements?

To receive SNAP benefits for more than three months in a three-year period, applicants who fall under the ABAWD classification must work or volunteer for at least eighty hours a month and/or take part in an employment or training program.

ABAWD age limit slated to go up again in 2024

In October 2024, the age limit for ABAWD work requirements will then rise once more, to 54. These new rules are scheduled to remain in effect until 2030.

Who is exempt from ABAWD work requirements?

According to the USDA, SNAP recipients within the ABAWD work requirement age range who are excused from fulfilling these conditions include those who are: veterans; pregnant; homeless; under 24 and were in foster care on your 18th birthday; unable to work due to a mental or physical limitation.

Find out more about SNAP eligibility on the USDA website.