Michigan has begun a process of moving thousands of adult food assistance recipients toward greater self-sufficiency as a result of renewed federal work requirements and the state’s improving unemployment rate.
In late November, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) notified 16,000 able-bodied adults without dependents in Kent, Oakland, Ottawa and Washtenaw counties that they will be required to meet certain federal work requirements to continue receiving food assistance. Beginning Jan. 1, they will have a three-month limit for receiving assistance from the U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program without meeting these work requirements.
These changes will be rolled out to all Michigan counties by October 2018 or sooner. These apply to able-bodied adults ages 18-49 without dependents who do not meet federal exemptions to the requirements.
Beginning in 2002, Michigan received a federal waiver from this requirement because of the state’s high unemployment rate. The federal government is ending its waiver because the state’s jobless rate has improved dramatically in recent years.
MDHHS is committed to providing assistance to these recipients in finding employment during this transition so that they can continue moving toward self-sufficiency. MDHHS employees in the various counties will be working with the Michigan Talent Investment Agency and Michigan Works! Agencies – which are workforce development agencies – to help these individuals become self-sufficient.
Under the new requirement, recipients must do one of the following: Work an average of 20 hours per week each month in unsubsidized employment; participate for an average of 20 hours per week each month in an approved employment and training program; or perform community service by volunteering at an approved nonprofit organization.
This waiver is being rolled out in stages – rather than all at once – to allow MDHHS and Michigan Works! Agencies to more effectively handle this transition and train their staff. Kent, Oakland, Ottawa and Washtenaw counties were selected to begin the process due to their lower unemployment rates.
More information is available at www.michigan.gov/foodassistance under “Work Requirements for Food Assistance.”