New federal SNAP work requirements take effect September 1

Starting September 1, 2023, new Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) rules go into effect requiring some older Americans to work to qualify for food assistance, while also exempting other groups from working.

These SNAP work requirement modifications were included in the Fiscal Responsibility Act enacted on June 3, 2023, as part of the negotiations between President Joe Biden (D) and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R) to raise the debt ceiling.

The current rules for SNAP require able-bodied adults from ages 18 to 49 to work or attend job training for at least 80 hours a month. The Fiscal Responsibility Act gradually increases the age limit for work requirements for individuals to be eligible for the food assistance program. The timeline for the new age-based work requirements occurs in three phases:

  • September 1, 2023: The age to meet work requirements increases to 50.
  • October 1, 2023: The age to meet work requirements increases to 52.
  • October 1, 2024: The age to meet work requirements increases to 54.

The federal legislation also added new exemptions for work requirements for some people. Those who no longer have to submit proof of work are veterans, homeless individuals, and former foster children under age 25. All of the new SNAP rules will expire on October 1, 2030.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan fiscal policy research group, argued in a report that the new work requirements “would put almost 750,000 older adults aged 50-54 at risk of losing food assistance … including many who have serious barriers to employment as well as others who are working or should be exempt but are caught up in red tape.”

Following the passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, McCarthy argued in remarks on the House floor, “Work-capable adults without dependents will get a job, learn new skills, and earn a paycheck because of this bill’s new welfare reforms. These reforms are going to change people’s lives. Families will be stronger and more self-sufficient.”

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