Nearly 47,000 Hoosiers are at risk of losing their benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. A federal waiver letting Indiana residents forgo work requirements is expiring.
That means able-bodied adults who are between the ages of 18 and 49 and don’t have dependents will now have to demonstrate they are working or actively looking for work. Otherwise, they’ll have a time limit of three months of SNAP benefits.
But Jessica Fraser, the program manager for the Indiana Institute for Working Families, says there are ways to stay in the program, “If they begin to work 20 hours per week or if they begin to participate in an approved employment and training activity, then they would not be at jeopardy of losing their benefits.”
She says those who are at risk of losing their benefits will get the chance to have an in-person assessment, “If folks have been classified as an able-bodied dependent, then they will have received a letter from the state giving them an appointment to meet with someone and to talk about their status and to talk about what kinds of employment and training activity or work would be the right fit for them, and they will be assigned some type of activity.”
Fraser says going to that appointment is critical, “Don’t get that letter and think, ‘Well, I can’t really work, so I’m just not going to go,’ and then you’re going to lose your benefits. They need to go to their appointment and see what can be done.”
She says the waivers were put in place during the Great Recession, but with unemployment levels dropping, the waivers are going away, “States, once they reach a certain low level of unemployment rate, were going to lose these waivers, anyway. Employment rates across the country are going down low enough now that, state by state, it’s going falling off these waivers, and these requirements are going to start being the law of the land again for every state.”
If SNAP recipients aren’t able to complete the required steps, the earliest they could begin losing their benefits is November 1.