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HOW WILL THE NEW FOOD STAMPS/SNAP BENEFITS RULE AFFECT YOU

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Last month, the Trump Administration announced a new rule to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – popularly known as “food stamps.”  The Department of Human Services runs the program.  Local Division of Family and Children Services can provide onsite help.

This rule requires able-bodied adults without dependents to show proof of work.  The new rule works like this:  all food stamp recipients are subject to a work requirement (unless they meet certain exemptions).  Anyone who receives food stamps can only get them for three months in a 36 month period unless the person meets the work requirement.  People exempted from these rules are pregnant women, people with a dependent child in the household and people unable to work due to a disability.  Work is defined as an average of 20 hours a week.  Work can include hours in lieu of pay for rent etc.  Participation in a workfare program or work training program counts.

In Georgia, there were approximately 1.3 million people on food stamps in 2019.  In that number, only about 120,000 were classified as “able-bodied” according to the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.   Seventy percent of food stamp recipients are families with dependent children.  The income limits for food stamps are as follows:  $1354 in gross income for a household of 1; $1832 for a household of 2; $2311 for a household of 3; and $2790 for a household of 4.  The graph for the income requirements can be found at igeorgiafoodstamps.com.    The average monthly benefit is $121 per person.

Implementation of this rule is going to fall hard on disability claimants.  The Social Security Disability Adjudication process is long and arduous.  The average wait time for a decision runs approximately 24 months.  The SNAP program can designate disability claimants as “able-bodied” if their claim has yet to be decided or they are in the appeal process.  A Physician’s Note can assist the food stamp applicant in restoring benefits and getting a waiver of the work requirement.  However, many applicants do not have regular treating doctors so even that can be a difficult hurdle.

Former Georgia Governor and now U.S. Department of Agriculture head, Sonny Perdue, told The Washington Post that this rule is necessary because “the integrity of the program” is a paramount concern.  Once again, efforts to save money in Washington D.C. are being borne on the backs of the country’s neediest people.  Let’s not forget that amidst a claimed booming economy, Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp requested agency budget cuts beginning in the 2020 fiscal year.  These budget cuts will affect the administration of the SNAP program – which now has additional rules to follow.

The SNAP program puts food the table for 1.5 million Georgians.  Georgia ranks eighth from the bottom in the country for food insecurity.  Free school lunch programs certify eligible children based on SNAP participation.  A child whose family is food insecure due to a recent disabling event for a parent is at risk of going without food all day.

You can apply for food stamps online at:  https://igeorgiafoodstamps.com/apply-online-ga-snap.

If you are food insecure in Georgia you can also contact these local food banks;  Atlanta Community Food Bank, 404 892 9822; the Georgia Mountain Food Bank at 770 534-4111; Chattanooga Area Food Bank, 423 622 1800; Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, 706 354 8191; Golden Harvest Food Bank for the Augusta area at 706 736 1199; Macon Georgia Community Food Bank,  478 742 3958; Feeding the Valley Food Bank for the Columbus/LaGrange area 706 561 4755;  American’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia, 912 236 6750;  Second Harvest of South Georgia, 229 244 2678.

 

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