Food stamp requirements for “able-body adults” change in SC

Credit: WCBD

CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) – Starting April 1, any food stamp (SNAP) recipient who qualifies as an “able-body adult” will have to meet a work requirement to continue receiving those benefits.

An Able-Body Adult without Dependents, ABAWD, is anyone between the ages of 18 and 50 who has no dependents and is considered to be able-bodied, according to a statement from the Department of Social Services. The change affects 60,000 people in the state.

After the April 1 deadline, all individuals included in a SNAP budget who are identified as an ABAWD, will be limited to three (3) months of SNAP benefits in a 36-month period unless he/she meets an ABAWD work requirement or an exemption.

This requirement has been part of the law since 1996, according to the USDA. Under the law, some states requested to temporarily waive the ABAWD time limit when unemployment was high.  Some parts of the country still have waivers in place. But, as the economy continues to improve, many places no longer qualify for time limit waivers, unless they have high unemployment or not enough jobs available.

The loss of this food assistance,  will cause serious hardship among many, according to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. USDA data show that the individuals likely to be cut off by the three-month limit typically qualify for no other income support.

The indigent individuals at risk are diverse, the report finds.  More than 40 percent are women.  Close to one-third are over age 40.  Among those who report their race, about half are white, a third are African American, and a tenth are Hispanic.  Half have only a high school diploma or GED, and one-quarter have not completed high school.  They live in all areas of the country, and among those for whom data on metropolitan status are available, close to 40 percent live in urban areas, 40 percent in suburban areas, and over 20 percent in rural areas.

ABAWD work requirement:

  • Work at least 80 hours monthly (in exchange for money or in-kind benefits, or unpaid);
  • Participate in and comply with the requirements of a work program (some examples of a work program include SNAP Employment and Training (E&T), Workforce Innovation Opportunities Act (WIOA), Project Hope) at least 20 hours weekly; or
  • Any combination of working and participating in a work program at least 80 hours monthly.

An individual between the ages of 18 and 50 may be exempt from the ABAWD work requirement if he/she is:

  • Physically or mentally unable to work;
  • Residing in a SNAP household where an included household member is under 18 years of age;
  • Pregnant; or
  • Already meeting an exemption from general SNAP work requirements.

Questions and answers pertaining to the implementation of the ABAWD time limit are available here.

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