FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Some people receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits in Indiana will soon be required to work in order to receive food stamps. The state and the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) is re-instating an old requirement for about 65,000 Hoosiers who receive SNAP.
If people are able-bodied adults without any dependents, then they will be required to work or be in a work-training program for 20 hours a week in order to get assistance. Currently, people in that category make up about seven percent of the nearly 900,000 people who receive SNAP benefits in Indiana. However, this enforcement is not anything new. The SNAP work requirement was created in 1996 during the Clinton Administration, and Indiana received a waiver in 2011 during the poor economy to temporarily cease enforcement. However, representatives from FSSA said the requirement was always meant to be reinstated.
“Ultimately, the goal of this is to get these people the sort of training and assistance they need to get back to work full time, so they won’t need SNAP assistance,” Marni Lemons, a FSSA spokesperson said.
Also, if people aren’t able to find jobs for a period of time or fall on hard times, they will be able to receive SNAP for a total of three months during a three year time frame. It is up to the recipient to choose whatever months the assistance would be needed.
Earlier this year, Ohio implemented the same work requirements. Some people living in Ohio said they were angry when they first heard the news but said it turned out to be a positive program.
“I ultimately believe it helped me get a job,” said Tristan Scranton, who went through the program, is now living assistance free and going to college part time while working full time. “My resume wasn’t very well organized. I think it will definitely help weed out people who abuse the system, and ultimately make it better for the state.”
However, some SNAP recipients, such as Kelly Brotherton of Fort Wayne, are still concerned. Brotherton has been receiving SNAP for nearly three years after she was let go from her previous job after a surgery left her unable to stand for long periods of time.
“I went through every bit of savings that I have, so for the first time in my entire life I filed for food stamps,” Brotherton said.
She said she has been actively searching for work. She was able to find a job that allowed her to sit, but it is only for three months out of the year. She has a college degree, so a lot of the work training programs haven’t been geared towards people in her situation, and she doesn’t want to file for disability because she said she wants to work.
FSSA representatives said the department is hoping to re-instate the work requirement statewide between March and May of next year, and they will be sending everyone affected a letter.