A federal waiver which allowed states to waive work requirements for recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as the Food Stamp program, expired Jan. 1.
The expiration of the federal waiver means that about 45,000 Alabamians receiving SNAP benefits must acquire work to maintain their benefits.
The change does not affect recipients with physical or mental disabilities, only those who are “able-bodied” adults, ages 18 to 49, without dependents and receiving $194 a month in benefits.
Along with exceptions for disabled recipients, those who are pregnant or caring for an incapacitated person.
Though the expiration of the waiver requires these able-bodied Alabamians to work, or be enrolled in a training program, at least 80 hours a month, SNAP benefit recipients affected are allowed three months without a job during a 36-month period.
The highest number of affected recipients is in Jefferson County, 6,377, with Mobile County close behind at 5,068.
The work requirement waiver will continue to be observed in 13 of Alabama’s 67 counties suffering from high unemployment rates, including Barbour, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Monroe, Perry, Sumter, Washington and Wilcox counties.
As many as 1 million people nationally could lose SNAP benefits as a result of the waiver expiration, 40 percent of them women and a quarter who do not have a high school diploma, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.