An estimated 17,300 Kentuckians will soon be at risk of losing much-needed grocery money due to newly reinstated requirements that tie food aid to reporting employment hours. Unless these Kentuckians can complete an onerous reporting process to prove they’re working an average of 20 hours per week for 33 out of every 36 months, their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will be taken away.
The requirement, which applies to adults between 18 and 49 who do not have a child in the home or a documented disability, was waived during the past three years due to the pandemic and ensuing downturn. It restarts this year in most counties, threatening the health and stability of thousands of Kentucky families. Today, the state will begin mailing notices to those who are required to report work hours.
“This SNAP work reporting requirement is based on the faulty assumption that people getting help with groceries need the threat of losing that assistance to spur them to work,” said Jessica Klein, Policy Analyst at KyPolicy. “But most adults using SNAP already work, and there is no evidence that requiring an additional reporting process that strips away grocery money increases work participation or reduces poverty.”
Instead, the requirement is very effective at tripping people up with complicated paperwork so that they lose food aid. When a similar limit was in place between 2018 and 2020, it resulted in 39,300 Kentuckians losing food assistance.
The work reporting requirement goes into effect in July, meaning SNAP recipients who fail to document and report their 20 hours of weekly work in July, August and September will lose food aid in October.
Jefferson County is at highest risk. The state’s most populous county has both the highest percentage (6.5%) and the largest number (5,486) of SNAP recipients required to report their work hours.
“SNAP is a vital part of ensuring that no Kentuckian goes hungry, and tying it to complicated work reporting is demeaning and cruel,” Klein said. “Policy makers should strengthen SNAP and eliminate the work reporting requirement.”
Read our full analysis here.