Eligibility changes in store for some local SNAP recipients

NORWICH – Facing obligatory changes in the way it handles employment requirements for people receiving Food Stamps, the Chenango County Department of Social Services is looking for ways to deal with an increased workload created by hundreds of Food Stamp recipients that will be affected.

DSS anticipates 400-500 people in the county who currently receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (or SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) will be affected by a drop in unemployment rates statewide.

Statewide unemployment relates to SNAP in part because federal law stipulates that any person who is able to work and doesn’t have a dependent be restricted to three months of SNAP benefits within a 36-month period. The law (called the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, or PRWORA) applies to anyone not working at least 80 hours per month, pursuing education or training activities for at least 80 hours per month, or involved with a workforce program.

However, PRWORA waivers are permitted by the federal government in states where unemployment has been high due a lack of jobs. Since the law was passed in 1996, New York State has been eligible for that waiver.

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