The work requirements of holding a job for an average of at least 20 hours a week are “for able-bodied adults ages 18 to 49 without dependents,” according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.
Two other options exist: adults can participate for an average of at least 20 hours a week in an approved employment and training program (select counties only); or participate in community service by volunteering at a nonprofit organization for a number of hours a week, determined by dividing the individual’s household monthly food assistance benefit by Michigan’s minimum wage ($9.25 per hour).
The department said such adults can now only receive food assistance benefits for up to three months within a three year period if they don’t meet the new requirements.
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People who are exempt from the new requirements include those who are disabled or blind, are pregnant, or are receiving drug or alcohol treatment.
College students, those caring for an incapacitated person or a child under the age of 6, and those who reside in a household with a child under age 18 could also be eligible for an exception.
Proof of a job, participation in a training program, or community service is required to receive food stamps for those not exempt.
“An able-bodied individual can participate in a combination of unsubsidized employment and an employment and training program, but cannot combine either with community service to meet the minimum hour requirement,” the department stated.
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Changes Affect Around 67,000
It also noted why the benefits were changing, stating: “More than a decade ago, Michigan and other states received a federal waiver when the states’ economies were struggling with high unemployment rates. The waiver removed some of the work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents. As Michigan’s economy improves, some Michigan counties are no longer eligible for the federal waiver. Additional counties are being assessed and these work requirements will soon be phased in for other counties as well.”
Public information officer Bob Wheaton, with the department, told WWMT that the change will affect around 67,000 people.
“You will have three months from the time it kicks in to meet the requirements before you would actually be losing your food assistance benefits,” Wheaton noted.
People who aren’t sure whether they’ll be affected should contact their Department of Health and Human Services case worker.