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On July 1st, 2023, time limits associated with work requirements for SNAP benefits came back, which means that if someone doesn’t meet the work requirements they can only receive SNAP benefits for 3 months of a 3-year period. 

There have been several changes to the SNAP Program this year. In March, the emergency allotments associated with the Public Health Emergency ended. In June, college student access to benefits returned to the pre-pandemic rules, so that exemptions that increased eligibility for benefits that were based on eligibility for work-study or $0 family contribution are no longer available. More about college student exemptions here. 

Here’s some more information on current work requirements: 

Generally, people between the ages of 18 and 49 have to either meet work requirements or meet an “exemption” to get SNAP benefits. If these requirements aren’t met, someone can only receive SNAP benefits for 3 months out of a 3-year period. 

Here are the possible exemptions:

  • Being younger than 18 or older than 49 
  • Having dependents under 18 (any member of the household) 
  • Being mentally or physically unable to work 
  • Being pregnant 
  • Living in an exempt locality – exempt localities are Brunswick, Buchanan, Danville, Dinwiddie, Franklin City, Greensville/Emporia, Hopewell, Nottoway, Petersburg, Portsmouth, Prince George, Sussex 
  • Being an attendant for someone who is incapacitated 
  • Being enrolled in substance abuse treatment 
  • Meeting the college student exemptions (more info here
  • Meeting the work requirements for another program such as TANF, refugee cash assistance, or unemployment benefits 

If you’re not exempt, the work requirements means you must do one or a combination of these things: 

  • Work for at least 20 hours per week 
  • Participate and comply with employment services, other work searches, operated by the Department of Social Services for at least 20 hours a week or equivalent, 
  • Complying with work requirements of at least 20 hours a week for a different (non-Department of Social Services) program 
  • Volunteer (unpaid) at a public or private agency for at least 20 hours a week 

Upcoming changes to SNAP work requirements: 

Congress recently changed work requirements to include people ages 50-54, which means that many SNAP recipients (including nearly 20,000 Virginians) have to either start complying with work requirements or risk losing benefits. 

The changes will be phased in on this schedule: 

  • Starting September 1st, 2023, adults age 50 will have to start meeting work requirements 
  • Starting October 1st, 2023, adults of ages up to 52 will have to start meeting work requirements 
  • Starting October 1st, 2024, adults of ages up to 54 will have to start meeting work requirements 

Congress also added additional exemptions for people who are experiencing homelessness, are 24 or younger and aged out of foster care, or are veterans. These exemptions will take effect on September 1st, 2023, although some agencies may implement them earlier. 

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