(NEXSTAR) — Starting in October, SNAP benefits are getting a boost – but eligibility requirements are also changing.
In order qualify for SNAP (previously called the Food Stamp Program), more people will be required to prove they are actively working, training or in school.
The changes only affect one group of SNAP recipients: able-bodied adults without dependents (or ABAWDs, as the agency calls them), ages 52 to 54.
ABAWDs between the ages of 18 and 52 already need to prove they are working at least 80 hours a month, pursuing an education or are in a training program to qualify for SNAP for more than three months.
Now, starting on Oct. 1, able-bodied childless workers who are 51 and 52 years old will also need to meet those work requirements to receive SNAP benefits.
Next year, starting in October 2024, the age requirement will expand again to 54.
There are some exemptions to the ABAWD work requirements, a USDA spokesperson told Nexstar. Homeless people, veterans, or youth ages 18 to 24 who aged out of foster care are all exempt from these requirements. People who cannot work due to a physical or mental limitation, are pregnant, or have a child 18 or younger living in their home are also exempt.
If you don’t meet the work requirements, you will only be eligible to receive SNAP benefits for three months in a three-year period.
Most people who do qualify for SNAP assistance will start receiving larger benefit amounts in October as the program implements a cost-of-living adjustment. For the contiguous 48 U.S. states, D.C. and Puerto Rico, the maximum monthly benefit for a household of four will be $973.
WHNT’s Josiah Elmore contributed to this report.