How Does Having A Job Impact Food Stamp Requirements?

Emily Chan
Published Nov 14, 2023

As lawmakers begin to debate the 2023 farm bill before the September 30 expiration of the current bill, the national food stamp program and its related work requirements are once again being heavily scrutinized. The food stamp program, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is the largest single program administered by the Agriculture Department. It provides food assistance to more than 42 million people and is estimated to cost roughly $127 billion in fiscal 2023.

To receive assistance from the food stamp program, many eligible recipients must adhere to the work requirements associated with receiving the aid. If the recipient does not meet the food stamp work requirements, they can be kicked out of the program and have their benefits suspended. So who is eligible for the assistance and what are the food stamp work requirements? Here is everything you need to know.
 

Who Is Eligible for Food Stamps?


While the food stamp program is a national program, it is administered by the states. To become eligible for benefits under the program, you must meet specific criteria, which are updated annually. If the state approves the application, you will receive benefits dated back to the day the application was submitted.

To be eligible for the program, you must meet gross and net income limits as well as resource limits. The income limits are typically 130% of the poverty line for gross monthly income and 100% of the poverty line for net monthly income. Resource limits exclude the primary home, most retirement and pension plans, and one vehicle per adult member of the household. There are some exceptions, but these are the general rules.
 

Food Stamp Work Requirements


After being approved for the food assistance program, certain recipients must meet the work requirements of the program to remain eligible for benefits. General food stamp work requirements for those aged 16 to 49 include registering for work, taking a job if offered, not quitting a job, and not reducing hours to less than 30 hours per week voluntarily. The general work requirements are waived if you are already working 30 hours per week or more, have a physical or mental limitation that leaves you unable to work, are participating in an addiction treatment program regularly for drug or alcohol use, or are attending school or a training program at least part-time.

Adults who are able-bodied with no dependents must work or attend a work program for at least 20 hours per week to keep their benefits for more than 3 months in a 36-month period. If you fail to meet the requirements, you can be dropped from the program and will only be reinstated once you have met the requirements again for 30 days. If you fail to meet the requirements a second time, you can be disqualified for a longer period of time and potentially receive a permanent disqualification.

In recent debates, a proposal has been floated to raise the age of those subject to food stamp work requirements to 65 years old. There have also been proposals to limit state administrators' ability to waive the work requirements for certain recipients. Exceptions would be allowed for recipients that are responsible for caring for a dependent under the age of 7, for pregnant women, and for those with a medical certification that they are unfit to work.
 

How To Dispute a Negative Finding


If you disagree with a decision made in your food stamp case, there are options available to dispute the decision. To register a dispute, you must request a fair hearing within 90 days of the decision. This request may be made in writing, over the phone, or in person at the benefits office. The hearing will be conducted by an official required by law to review the case fairly and objectively.

As food prices continue to rise and more states reduce the generous food assistance benefits granted during the pandemic, more households are finding themselves food insecure. It remains to be seen whether lawmakers are prepared to tackle the issue head on or will kick the can down the road with modest adjustments crafted to appease lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. What is certain is that the need for food assistance won't be diminishing any time soon.

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