Those receiving food stamps across Michigan are gradually facing new rules that require them to work at least part time in order to continue receiving their monthly benefits.
The reinstatement of federal work requirements applies to “able-bodied” adults without children between the ages of 18 and 49. The rules will be fully in place statewide by October 2018.
Incredibly, Michigan had received a waiver from Washington for 15 consecutive years starting in 2002 due to high unemployment rates. The state jobless rate has now plummeted to 4.3 percent.
The first counties where the requirements took effect on Jan. 1 of this year were Kent, Oakland, Ottawa and Washtenaw.
On Jan. 1, 2018, the rules will be reinstated in 10 additional counties: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Clinton, Eaton, Grand Traverse, Ingham, Ionia, Kalamazoo and Livingston. That change will affect about 16,000 people.
It’s not clear when the reinstatement will take place in two of Michigan’s largest counties, Wayne and Macomb, where a combined 530,000 adults and children receive food stamp aid from the U.S. Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
The average family of four receives $234 per month in food assistance, while the monthly allotment for an individual is $124. In Michigan, the federally funded program costs $166 million a year. Approximately 0.4 percent of the annual state budget is spent on direct assistance to the poor.
Those facing the federal requirements have three options:
Work an average of 20 hours per week or more each month in a routine job.
Participate for an average of 20 hours per week each month in an approved job training program.
Volunteer for community service at a nonprofit organization.
Exemptions apply for those with physical or mental disabilities, pregnant women or adults who are caring for a child under the age of six.