The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is set to undergo alterations as new work requirements for a specific group of beneficiaries are scheduled to take effect from September 1.
New Work Requirements to Affect Able-Bodied Adults Ages 50-54 in SNAP Benefits
The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service has confirmed a series of new work requirements and changes to the SNAP benefits program, stemming from the recently signed Fiscal Responsibility Act. This bill, prompted by the debt ceiling concerns and signed by President Joe Biden in June, will bring about gradual adjustments to eligibility criteria and new work requirements over the coming year. The focal point of these changes centers around able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) aged 50 to 54, who have been identified as the group subject to the new work requirements. Currently, ABAWDs between 18 and 49 are already mandated to demonstrate new work requirements, such as their engagement in work, education, or training for at least 80 hours per month to qualify for SNAP benefits for more than three months. Starting September 1, the age bracket facing these new work requirements will expand to include childless workers aged 50. Moreover, from October 1, the age criteria will extend further to 52, culminating in a final extension to 54 by October 1, 2024. However, amidst these changes, there is a recognition of certain exceptions. According to a USDA spokesperson, homeless individuals, veterans, and youths aged 18 to 24 who have aged out of foster care will be exempt from the new work requirements.
Similarly, those who are physically or mentally incapacitated, pregnant, or have children aged 18 or younger residing with them will also receive exemptions. Notably, though exemptions have been broadened, state agencies administering SNAP benefits will now have a reduced capacity to grant them, with the annual allotment of individual ABAWD discretionary exemptions dwindling from 12 percent to 8 percent as of October 1, 2023. For those who do not meet the enhanced and new work requirements, their eligibility for SNAP benefits will be restricted to a maximum of three months within a three-year span. These new work requirements are set to be in effect until October 1, 2030. As the new work requirements begin to roll out, the impact on eligible individuals within the 50-54 age range remains to be seen, as these changes aim to strike a balance between ensuring assistance for those who genuinely need it and promoting workforce engagement among the program’s recipients.