An estimated 2,942 residents in Cobb County may have recently lost their food stamps April 1 when a federal waiver on work requirements for food aid beneficiaries was lifted, according to an article in the Marietta Daily Journal.
Officials with the Department of Family and Children Services confirmed the news. The change reinstates stricter regulations that limit the amount of food aid available to “able-bodied adults” between 18 and 49 with no dependents, the article reads.
The Georgia Food Stamp Program, federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is a federally-funded program that provides monthly benefits to low-income households to help pay for the cost of food. A household may be one person living alone, a family or several unrelated individuals living together who routinely purchase and prepare meals together.
Anyone may apply for food stamp benefits. The program helps households that have limited income and resources.
With the changes, adults who are capable of working may only collect food stamps for three months over a three-year period. Cobb is just one of three metro Atlanta counties affected by the change. Hall and Gwinnett Counties are also affected.
The work requirement was enacted in the 1990s and lifted temporarily in 2008 due to the recession.
Susan Boatwright, a spokesperson for DFCS, told the MDJ the agency expected a significant percentage of the 2,942 able-bodied food stamp recipients in Cobb to be affected, but the agency will not know the final number until later this month.
About 1.8 million Georgia residents receive food stamps. More than 85,000 of those are from Cobb County.
The work requirement was only enforced in three counties because the federal government determined the economy in those regions has recovered enough to lift the waiver, according to the article.
As Georgia’s economy improves, the waiver is expected to be lifted in other areas.
“DFCS case workers determined exemptions to the work requirement based on observable mental or physical disabilities or a doctor’s statement,” the article reads. “Other cases eligible for exemption from the work requirement include pregnant women, caretakers, those working 20 hours a week or collecting unemployment benefits.”