A new rule that takes effect April 1 will require some Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to meet federal work requirements to continue receiving federal food assistance, commonly known as "food stamps." The federal government also has granted a waiver for 14 Louisiana parishes that will not be impacted by the new rule change.
Here's some information from the governor's office about the changes and the waivers:
SNAP recipents who are classified as an Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependents (ABAWD) - that is, recipients who are age 18 to 49, do not have a child living with them and are considered able to work - can receive benefits for only three months in a 36-month period unless they meet the federal ABAWD work requirement or qualify for an exemption. This rule, known as the SNAP Time Limit, is established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). For Louisiana SNAP recipients, the rule would cover the period of April 2020 through March 2023.
Because of the federal rule change, Gov. John Bel Edwards is rescinding a 2016 executive order that required Louisiana SNAP recipients classifed as ABAWDs to register and have active participation with the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) Business and Career Solutions Centers. All SNAP recipients who meet the mandatory work registration criteria are still required to register with LWC for these services. The new federal rules for ABAWDs require a different type of accountability than the rules created under Executive Order JBE 2016-12, creating unnecessary confusion in the enforcement of both state and federal regulations, Edwards said in rescinding his prior order.
Almost 49,000 (6%) of Louisiana's 810,000 SNAP recipients met the ABAWD definition in October. On Monday, FNS granted a waiver of the SNAP Time Limit rule for 14 parishes with higher unemployment rates (including about 5,000 recipients classified as ABAWDs). Those parishes are Assumption, Catahoula, Concordia, East Carroll, Franklin, Madison, Morehouse, Richland, St. Landry, St. Mary, Tensas, Vernon, West Carroll and Winn.
With the waiver, and with additional recipients qualifying for federal exemptions, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) estimates the number of recipients affected by the federal rule change will be about 31,000 (3.8% of Louisiana's 810,000 SNAP recipients).
What SNAP Recipients Need to Know
Later this month, DCFS will mail notices and fact sheets to SNAP recipients who will be affected by the rule change, outlining options for meeting the work requirement and continuing to receive assistance.
"We want to help SNAP recipients understand whether this rule applies to them and what they need to do to keep their benefits. We also want to help direct them to the many career and educational opportunities that currently exist and are in development," said DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters.
Options for meeting the ABAWD work requirement include:
Working in a job (for pay, for goods or services, or as a volunteer) for at least 80 hours per month;
Participating in an employment and training program for at least 80 hours per month; or
Working or participating in any combination of the above for a total of at least 80 hours per month.
DCFS is currently expanding career opportunities for SNAP recipients through the SNAP Employment and Training Program (SNAP E&T). For more information about SNAP E&T, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/page/snap-et [dcfs.louisiana.gov].
Recipients may be exempt from the work requirement and time limit for receiving benefits if:
Their SNAP case includes a child under 18 (even if the child is not theirs);
They are responsible for the care of a child under age 6 or an incapacitated person;
They receive disability benefits or veterans disability benefits (at any percentage);
They have a physical or mental disability that makes them unable to work at least 80 hours per month;
They have experienced physical or psychological trauma from domestic violence and are unable to work at least 80 hours per month;
They are receiving unemployment benefits;
They are regularly participating in a drug or alcohol treatment program;
They are pregnant (at any stage); or
They are attending school.
SNAP recipients who meet the ABAWD description and who believe they qualify for one of these exemptions must contact DCFS by emailing LAHelpU.DCFS@la.gov [dcfs.louisiana.gov] or calling 1-888-LA-HELP-U (1-888-524-3578) to verify and document their exemption.
For a sample official notice, a fact sheet, frequently asked questions and other information about the rule change, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/ABAWD [dcfs.louisiana.gov].