Michigan to reinstate work requirements for adults receiving food stamps

(WXYZ) - By the end of next year, “able-bodied” adults in Michigan who currently receive food stamps will have to meet federal work requirements to continue receiving benefits.

The federal work requirements have been waived since 2002 in Michigan due to high unemployment rates, but are being reinstated in waves across the state.

An “able-bodied” adult, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is anyone who is between the ages of 18 to 49, does not have a disability and does not have dependents.

They can meet the reinstated work requirements to receive food assistance by:

  • Working an average of 20 hours per week each month in unsubsidized employment.
  • Participating for an average of 20 hours per week each month in an approved employment and training program.
  • Participating in community service by volunteering at a nonprofit organization.

The MDHHS is notifying approximately 16,000 people this week who will be potentially affected by the change, which is effective Jan. 1, 2018. The counties being affected are: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Clinton, Eaton, Grand Traverse, Ingham, Ionia, Kalamazoo and Livingston.

In January 2017, the requirements were reinstated in Kent, Oakland, Ottawa and Washtenaw counties. The MDHHS expects the waiver to be phased out statewide by October 2018 or sooner.

“Phasing out these work requirements goes along with the MDHHS goal of assisting Michiganders in finding employment to achieve self-sufficiency, end generational poverty and realize their dreams,” the MDHHS said in a statement.

In nine counties, MDHHS and its partners at Michigan Works! Agencies and the Talent Investment Agency will provide resources – such as approved training programs – to help affected residents meet work requirements. In the 10th county – Grand Traverse County – MDHHS will pilot a program that includes employment and self-initiated community service.

Some federal exemptions to the reinstated work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents will remain. They include exemptions for individuals who are physically or mentally unable to work for 20 hours, are pregnant or care for a child under age 6 or someone who is incapacitated.

For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/foodassistance.

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