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Reinstatement of work requirements for able-bodied SNAP recipients without dependents
For SNAP clients between the ages of 18 and 49 who are not disabled and do not have children or other dependents, benefits are limited to three months in a 36 month period unless they are:
- Working an average of 20 hours per week for a total of 80 hours per month
- Participating in at least 20 hours a week of approved employment and training activities such as through the Indiana Manpower Placement and Comprehensive Training (IMPACT) program
- Participating in a combination of work and employment and training activities for at least 20 hours a week
- Participating in a Community Workforce Experience (CWEP) "workfare" activity for the required hours
To help clients qualify for jobs and become self-sufficient, FSSA offers employment and training services to any SNAP recipient at no cost to the recipient. These services include job search, job readiness and job placement assistance. Additional services such as transportation to training or job interviews and appropriate clothing needed for work are also available.
Why were the work requirements reinstated?
Federal law put work requirements in place for able-bodied adults receiving SNAP. This happened in 1996 by the passage of The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act.
Due to the nationwide recession and high unemployment rate in 2009, the federal government allowed states to suspend the work requirement time limits for "Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents" (also known as ABAWDs) between the ages of 18 and 49 through a waiver that was created by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This was also called the “stimulus package.” At that time, our state qualified for a statewide labor surplus waiver and like many states, Indiana opted to suspend these work requirements beginning in 2009.
Indiana had qualified for a statewide labor surplus waiver each year since. However, the stimulus package expired in 2015. As a result, Indiana, along with 34 other states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, no longer qualify for statewide waivers of the work requirement. Indiana was officially notified by the Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA in May of 2014 that it was only able to suspend time-limited benefits through the end of the federal fiscal year 2015 (September 2015).
Indiana has always intended to reinstate work requirements for our able-bodied adult SNAP clients. We view the establishment of the time limits as an opportunity to help improve the skills of Hoosiers in all parts of the state and advance their prospects for meaningful employment, while at the same time establishing a pool of better prepared candidates for the Indiana workforce.
How has this change impacted able-bodied SNAP recipients?
In the first six months after reestablishing time limits for able-bodied adults without dependents receiving SNAP, Indiana has seen the number receiving SNAP benefits decrease by 68 percent. In July 2015,when time-limited benefits were first reinstated, 49,576 able-bodied adults without dependents between the ages 18 and 49 were receiving SNAP benefits; sometimes referred to as food stamps. As of January 2016 that number had dropped 68 percent to 15,766. Nearly 5,000 Hoosiers who were receiving benefits in July are no longer receiving assistance because they obtained gainful employment and now have an income that exceeds eligibility standards. Those who are still receiving benefits are now required to participate in at least 20 hours of work-related activities a week to maintain their eligibility.
What does an able-bodied client without dependents need to do to keep receiving SNAP benefits?
Any new SNAP recipient that is an able-bodied adult without dependents will be referred to the employment and training program. Once determined eligible for SNAP benefits, he or she will be scheduled for an appointment.
Recipients not meeting work requirements will receive a letter notifying them of an appointment for an IMPACT orientation session. IMPACT staff will work with clients to identify barriers that are keeping the client from becoming employed.
A client who loses benefits could regain eligibility for SNAP if any of the following occur:
- Working at least 80 hours in a 30 day period
- Participating in approved employment and training (such as IMPACT) activities for 80 hours in a 30 day period
- Any combination of working and participating in an approved SNAP work program for a total of 80 hours or participated in and complied with a workfare program
- Becoming exempt from work requirements for any reason such as becoming disabled
- The 36 month period expires and a new 36 month period begins
What programs are available to help able-bodied Hoosiers?
Employment and training services are available to any SNAP recipient. These services are offered by the State of Indiana at no cost. These services include job search, job readiness and job placement assistance. There are also limited supportive services such as transportation and clothing as they relate to becoming employed. This same level of services will be offered to all able-bodied adults subject to time-limited benefits.