As a result of the changes to work requirement rules, tens of thousands of families in Florida have had their food stamp benefits canceled since the start of 2016. This program is the state’s (as well as nation’s) primary service for ensuring that low income families have some form of food each month, and these cutbacks may lead to more of the state’s most vulnerable going hungry.
These cutbacks to the SNAP program are not only occurring in Florida, but they are also taking place nationwide. As a result of the strengthening economy, and the increased availability of jobs, the Department of Children and Families has implemented the new federal government guidelines on who can receive SNAP benefits and who can’t.
What the new regulations state is that effective January 1, 2016, adults without children who are physically able to work need to get a job. They need to have some form of employment in order to continue to receive funds from the state of Florida SNAP food stamp program.
Even if these hundreds of thousands of people impacted can’t find a job in short order, they can continue to receive SNAP just by volunteering or thy can be actively searching for a job.
This in itself is a very reasonable request, as it should reduce the number of people that are looking for a free “hand-out” from the state. It should also cut back on fraud and abuse in the SNAP food stamp program. However there are some challenges in implementing these DCF rules, and that really comes from those residents that are disabled.
Some of the non-profits that work with the poor in Florida, such as Legal Services of Greater Miami, have reported that some residents with a disability are being sanctioned by the Department of Children and Families. So they have had their benefits reduced as of January 2016 when there is a strong case that maybe they should not have had any cutbacks.
While we are sure that some of the disabled or sick in Florida may have been impacted by these work rule changes, they can file an appeal with the state. They also have other options available to them in the meantime, such as applying for public assistance in Florida. There are other benefits available to them that can help offset any reduction in SNAP food stamps.
In addition, if the person does have a true, certified disability, there are government agencies and non-profits that help the disabled. The case managers there will appeal and reduction in their food stamps and also help them apply for other support in the meantime. They can learn about disability income programs in Florida such as SSI and many others.
The new employment rules now being enforced will unfortunately take some time to work through the system. Out of the estimated 300,000+ people that have had their food stamp benefits sanctioned by DCF since January 1 2016, it is more than likely that a number of them were incorrectly impacted. They should appeal this as soon as possible by contacting their local social service office or even use free legal aid if needed. It is also recommended to apply for other public aid as soon as possible as well, as other programs can help them over the short term. Anyone that does this should be prepared to prove their case as to why they should continue to receive SNAP food stamps.