ANDERSON, S.C. (WSPA) – Time is running out for some food stamp users to find work or they’ll risk losing SNAP benefits.
The state let the waiver for able-bodied adults without kids expire in April. Now, Upstate food banks and career centers are preparing as the deadline approaches.
“It is very important for people to understand that this is not a joke and that this is very serious,” Kristi King-Brock the Anderson Interfaith Ministry Executive Director said. “Opportunities are available if people are willing to take advantage of them.”
Come July 1st, a 3 month deadline to find a job or training will end for able-bodied people ages 18 to 50. The only exemptions will be if they’re mentally or physically unable to work, pregnant or already have kids. If you don’t meet the requirements you could lose SNAP benefits for up to 3 years.
“Hopefully this will encourage them to take advantage of the opportunities to improve their skills sets,” Kristi added.
Anderson Interfaith Ministries says they’re preparing for that deadline. They expect a surge of need for their food pantry. But like the state, their food will come with some rules.
“We will give them food the first time,” Kristi added. “Now, the second time they come, we will tell them that we will give them food one more time but if they don’t do the opportunities that are given to them to increase your skills level and get a job, we will not be able to assist you.”
AIM says now is the time to find the right options you need. Under a state contract they offer career ready training that’s already helped people get back on their feet.
“There are all kinds of opportunities for training for truck driving, to welding, to auto mechanics, you name it,” she said.”There is one woman, when she came in, in one year she made 8 thousand dollars. Now, she is currently making 14 dollars an hour with benefits at the hospital.”
The SNAP changes are affecting at least 60-thousand people across South Carolina. The changes come from a bettering economy and more employment opportunities across the state.
See the full requirements and guidelines below:
Any SNAP recipient who qualifies as an Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependents (ABAWD) will have to meet a work requirement to continue receiving SNAP benefits. An ABAWD is any individual between the ages of 18 and 50 who has no dependents and is considered to be able-bodied.
After April 1, 2016, 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 (April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2019) unless he/she meets an ABAWD work requirement or an exemption.
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
- 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
- Already meeting an exemption from general SNAP work requirements
Questions and answers pertaining to the implementation of the ABAWD time limit are available at https://dss.sc.gov/content/about/news/abawd_faq.aspx.
According to DSS, this is not a new requirement. We were sent the following statement:
“Under the law, States can request to temporarily waive the ABAWD time limit when unemployment is high or there are not enough jobs available. Therefore, during the economic downturn, a number of states, including South Carolina, applied for a waiver of the requirement. However, as the economy has begun to rebound, many states who were previously operating under a federal waiver of the time limit policy no longer qualify because of lower unemployment rates.
South Carolina returned to implementing the time-limit policy beginning April 1, 2016. It is important to note that individuals will not lose benefits unless they have failed to satisfy the work requirements. The state provides employment training programs in all 46 counties and South Carolinas has required ABAWDs to work or participate in education or employment training in order to receive benefits since 2012. Therefore, we do not anticipate an increased burden on the state’s food pantries or other resources, but have kept community partners apprised of the developments and will continue to monitor. “