RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — If you’re enrolled in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food stamp program, get ready, you could be impacted by new changes affecting eligibility to receive benefits taking effect Sept. 1.
The changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) were published as a memorandum in the Fiscal Responsibility Act — the debt ceiling bill signed into law in early June.
Currently, those who are 18-49, able-bodied, and without dependents are obligated to abide by the SNAP general work requirements to receive food stamps. These include applying for jobs, accepting employment if offered, not quitting a job without good cause and more.
New changes to the SNAP program will extend the ages of those needing to abide by the general work requirements to include those ages 50 to 54. On Sept. 1, people 18-50 years old will be required to abide by the general work requirements. Starting on Oct. 1, the age requirements will be pushed back to age 52. The next year, on Oct. 1, 2024, the age requirement will pushed back again, to 54.
According to the USDA, state agencies were allowed to begin screening for and applying the modifications on “initial and recertification applications and to ongoing households as of July 1, 2023.” The application of the changes includes screening applicants to verify eligibility and applying modified exceptions on applications received by Sept. 1, at which point the requirement changes for the first age extension will go into effect.
The USDA said the change in age for work requirements will help in ensuring both access and integrity to the program, help in reducing turnover of the program in vulnerable populations and reduce the administrative burden for state workers.
Nearly 850,000 Virginians rely on SNAP benefits, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In early June, 8News spoke with food insecurity advocates who said the expansion of the general work requirements age limit will only increase the need for another meal and add a heavy burden on organizations.
These new age limit requirements are set to expire on Oct. 1, 2030.