PHILIPPI, W.Va. – Delegates Patsy Trecost, D-Harrison, and Danny Wagner, R-Barbour, today unveiled a new proposal to ensure that able-bodied adults who do not have dependents are either working or participating in a work program in order to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits for a period of more than three months.
The draft bill, which will be introduced during the 2016 legislative session, would limit the amount of time able-bodied but unemployed adults who do not have dependents can draw SNAP benefits. Those adults would only be able to draw benefits for a period of three months, unless they work or participate in a work program for at least 20 hours a week.
Under the traditional guidelines of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, an able-bodied adult between the ages of 18 and 50 would only be able to draw benefits for a period of three months before the work requirements kicked in. However, as a result of the Great Recession, the federal government began allowing some states, including West Virginia, to request waivers of those requirements for program participants.
The proposal would prohibit the state Department of Health and Human Resources from requesting those work-requirement waivers after July 1, 2016. If signed into law, the bill would only allow those able-bodied individuals who work or participate in a work program for at least 20 hours a week to continue receiving benefits beyond the initial three-month period. As with current law, the requirement would not apply to benefit recipients who are disabled, have dependents or are older than 50.
“With this proposal, we are simply trying to ensure that those individuals who can contribute to society do,” Delegate Trecost said. “We’re just asking those who receive this assistance to do their best to give back and work to make West Virginia a better place.”
“It’s important to remember this proposal won’t create a new benefits system, but rather take the program back to the way it operated before the 2008 recession,” Delegate Wagner said. “We’re not doing anything new to deny access to these benefits, we’re simply reinstating the limits for able-bodied workers that had traditionally been in place.”