April 2016 is poised to fit T.S. Eliot’s description of April as the “cruelest month,” as many thousands of jobless adults without dependents (ABAWDs) will lose all their SNAP benefits even though these individuals are seeking work. The clock started ticking for ABAWDs in many states January 1, 2016.
Some areas of the country with insufficient jobs are waived from the SNAP time limit, but many areas are not. While people who have physical or mental barriers to work are supposed to be exempt, navigating the system will be too daunting for many, according to Pat Baker of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute. She told “City Lab” that the process of getting benefits restored is “death by a thousand paper cuts.”
The arbitrary SNAP time limit is likely to make April a very hungry month, as emergency food providers warn that they will be unable to make up for the SNAP cuts. The Food Bank For New York City reports (pdf) that the time limit could impact 53,000 individuals in the non-exempt areas across New York State, “resulting in the loss of approximately 31 million meals over the course of a year.”
FRAC is urging “7 Actions to Protect SNAP Benefits for Jobless People.” It is calling for support for pending bills (S. 2420, H.R. 1025) that would require offering a work slot to an ABAWD before the state imposes the time limit. FRAC also is calling for improvements in applicant screening and other steps that can help ameliorate the current time limit’s negative impact.