The Edmond Sun

September 30, 2013

New SNAP rules go into effect today

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — An eligibility change went into effect today for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as “food stamps.”

Able-bodied adults without dependents are required to work a minimum of 20 hours a week to receive SNAP benefits, said Mark Beutler, Oklahoma Department of Human Services spokesperson.

“In the past what has happened was, individual states were able to apply for federal waivers to not have to comply with those work requirements,” Beutler said.

OKDHS applied for a waiver in 2009 to allow more people to receive SNAP benefits during the height of the recession, he said. This waiver expired Monday night.

The term “able-bodied adult” is considered to be a person from 18-49 years of age who lives without a disability or a dependent.

“If their physician says that they’re disabled, that’s how it’s classified,” Beutler said.

Authored by Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, House Bill 1909 was signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin in May to enforce new SNAP eligibility requirements. The law prohibits Oklahoma from ever applying for a waiver again, even when a waiver is offered, Beutler said.

“ABAWD individuals who are employed less than 20 hours a week can receive no more than three months of benefits,” Beutler said. Individuals may discuss their eligibility with their case workers.

Whether somebody has been actively looking for employment without success is not taken into account by the new law, Beutler said when asked.

“That is a good question and that is kind of right at the heart of the issue,” he said. “In the past, it didn’t matter they had been looking or hadn’t been looking. If they couldn’t find a job, they were still allowed to receive their benefits. Now they can no longer receive their benefits even if they kept looking and couldn’t find a job.”