DHHR Says 1,566 Will Lose Food Stamp Benefits Next Month

Charleston Gazette-Mail - Under new requirements to either work or be in training, 1,566 West Virginians will lose their food stamp benefits beginning next month, according to the state Department of Health and Human Resources. Meanwhile the state is reviewing a request from legal advocacy group Mountain State Justice to exclude the chronically homeless from the requirements. Read

The DHHR announced late last year it would reinstate a federal requirement that recipients of the state's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program meet a monthly work or training requirement of 20 hours per week, or lose benefits after three months. The changes took effect in January.

The changes affect recipients in the counties with the lowest unemployment: Berkeley, Cabell, Harrison, Jefferson, Kanawha, Marion, Monongalia, Morgan and Putnam. It affects those who fall into the category of "able-bodied adults without dependents" — those who are between the ages of 18 to 49, are not disabled, don't have dependents and don't qualify for an exemption.

SNAP recipients who don't comply with the guidelines after three months are removed from the program.

Advocates have argued the changes would affect low-income recipients, many of whom don't have access to transportation, which will hinder them in finding work. They say many recipients are homeless or lack a high school diploma. Others are returning from military service or have criminal convictions that would affect their employment, according to the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.


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