Starting from October 1, certain recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also abbreviated as SNAP benefits, will be required to work to maintain their payments. This change, enforced by the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), involves the implementation of federal work requirements and time limits specifically targeting individuals categorized as “Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents” (ABAWDs).
In essence, beginning October 1, ABAWDs will need to engage in work-related activities to continue receiving SNAP benefits -formerly known as food stamps-, marking a significant shift in the program’s eligibility criteria. Even though, some beneficiaries might be exempted from this new requirement. But, who qualifies?
New SNAP Work Requirements for ABAWDs
Starting from October 1, 2023, individuals between the ages of 18 and 52 falling under the ABAWDs category will be restricted to receiving SNAP benefits for a maximum of three months within a 36-month timeframe. This limitation can be waived if they fulfill the federal work requirement or qualify for an exemption. And in this last phrase is what we’re looking to decode: who qualifies for these so-called exemptions?
First things first. The ABAWDs new requirements are as follows:
- Must be working in a job (either paid or volunteering) for a minimum of 80 hours per month
- Take part in a SNAP Employment and Training program for at least 80 hours per month
- Work and or take part in any combination of the above for a total of at least 80 hours per month.
“If an ABAWD-classified SNAP recipient fails to meet the ABAWD work requirement, or is not exempt, they will lose their benefits after three months,” Louisiana’s DFCS added in the statement.
Who Falls under the ABAWDs Category, Now Obligated to Work?
The ABAWDs category, an acronym for “Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents,” is a term used within the context of social welfare programs in the United States. It refers to a specific group of individuals who are subject to certain work requirements in order to receive benefits such as SNAP and others
The ABAWDs category aims to encourage self-sufficiency among able-bodied individuals and ensure that social welfare programs are targeted at those who need them the most. People in this class are those between the ages of 18 and 49 and not have a recognized disability. Secondly, they should not have dependent children or other family members they are responsible for, such as a spouse. Lastly, they must not be pregnant.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid insurance, and Workforce Development Programs are other federal-funded programs that take into account the ABAWDs category to determine wheter a person qualifies or not.
ABAWDs Exempted from the New SNAP Work Requirements
The DCFS has provided a list of exemptions from the ABAWD work requirement and time limit for SNAP recipients. These exemptions cover a range of circumstances to ensure that vulnerable individuals are not unduly affected by these restrictions. One category of exemptions includes individuals who are physically or mentally unable to be employed.
Pregnant individuals are also exempt from the work requirement and time limit. This recognizes the importance of supporting expectant mothers during this critical period. Another exemption category includes those who are responsible for caring for dependents. This encompasses individuals who are primary caregivers for children or other family members and may not have the capacity to engage in work-related activities.
Veterans are granted an exemption as well, recognizing their service to the country and potentially unique circumstances they may face upon returning to civilian life. Individuals experiencing homelessness are also exempt, understanding that their immediate priority may be securing stable housing and addressing their basic needs.
Young adults aged 24 and younger who were in foster care on their 18th birthday are provided an exemption, acknowledging the challenges they may encounter during their transition to adulthood. Moreover, individuals who work at least 30 hours a week and earn $217.50 or more per week are exempt from the work requirement, as are those who are currently receiving unemployment benefits or have applied for them. This recognizes the importance of supporting those who are actively seeking employment or are already working.
SNAP recipients who are attending school, college, or a training program at least half-time are also exempt, as are those who meet the work rules for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). These exemptions consider the pursuit of education and training as a valid path toward self-sufficiency.
Lastly, participants in a drug or alcohol addiction treatment program are exempt from the work requirement, recognizing the importance of addressing and recovering from substance abuse issues.