The Dunleavy Administration has received a waiver from the federal government for the requirement that food stamps recipients who are able bodied adults without dependents must be employed, minimally at least.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (USDA FNS) finalized a rule to narrow state options to waive work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.
Under federal law that went into effect in December, able-bodied individuals 18 through 49 who are not disabled or caring for children or other dependents – may only access food assistance through SNAP for three months in a 36-month period, unless they are working at least 20 hours a week or are enrolled in an employment or training program.
In 2017, 2.8 million of these persons participated in SNAP, representing 7 percent of total food stamp program enrollees.
The statewide waiver means all these enrollees in food stamps are exempt for the time being.
Many Alaskans who might suddenly qualify for SNAP benefits under the current economic circumstances brought about by the COVID outbreak might not be able to find employment in Alaska due to the closures of restaurants, bars, and other service establishments.
Our existing policy permits us to waive work requirements for SNAP for good cause. Our teams are working on implementation for all recipients of the SNAP program for the duration of the state’s efforts in dealing with the effects of the virus.
“As this is all very new for many of us and for our federal partners too, we are working to make sure we are taking advantage of any and all options to ease the burden and workload for eligibility requirements of our programs to make it easier for people to qualify and remain eligible during this critical time. This means the waiver applies to work requirements for ABAWDS and to the general work requirements,” said a source in the Department of Health and Social Services.
For more information on how to apply for SNAP benefits, go to this link.