Food stamp changes noted
The State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) is mailing notices this week to more than 200,000 people affected by new food stamp eligibility requirements or rule changes that will reduce the value of stamps they receive.
Changes under the new welfare law affect: Food stamp recipients who are receiving no other public assistance payments; people who are receiving help under Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC) or other cash assistance programs for single parent or two-parent families; and legal immigrants who may become disqualified for food stamps after April next year.
Under the new law, able-bodied recipients between the ages of 18 and 50 years old with no dependents are limited to three months of food stamps in a 36-month period. This limitation applies unless recipients qualify for exemptions, meet work participation requirements, or live in areas where the unemployment rate or job availabilities qualify for federal waivers.
The first 36-month period begins in January. The first month food stamps could be terminated for people who become ineligible is April.
Pregnant women and people who are physically or mentally unfit for employment or care for someone who is incapacitated are exempt from the new limit, as are recipients who work at least 20 hours a week, averaged monthly, or those who participate in state-approved work programs for a number of hours that would equal the value of their food stamps.
A recipient denied food stamps after using the three months of eligibility may re-qualify by working more than 80 hours or more in any 30 day period or participating in a state-approved work program for the same number of hours.
The new federal law eliminated household heating or energy allowances previously credited against monthly AFDC grants for the purpose of determining the amount of monthly stamp allowances. As a result, beginning in January, monthly food stamp allowances for AFDC recipients will drop by an average of $26 per month for a three-person household, going from $249 to $223 on average.
Call (360) 902-7808 for more information.