Debt-ceiling deal would require people work longer for SNAP benefits

May 30, 2023, 2:53 PM | Updated: May 31, 2023, 1:06 pm

Older Americans who receive food assistance may have to work (or train) more hours, to receive thei...

FILE: Jaqueline Benitez, a SNAP recipient, pushes her cart down an aisle as she shops for groceries at a supermarket in Bellflower, Calif., on Monday, Feb. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Allison Dinner)

(AP Photo/Allison Dinner)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Older Americans who receive food assistance, or SNAP, may have to work (or train) more hours to receive their benefits. That stipulation comes as part of the proposed deal on the debt ceiling forged between Democratic President Joe Biden and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

“The age limit would be changing to include folks [up to] age 54,” said Muris Prses, the assistant director for eligibility with the Utah Department of Workforce Services. The current age limit for those required to work or receive training for those amount of hours is 49.

In other words, people who receive food assistance between the ages of 18 and 54 would be required to work or train at least 20 hours a week, or 80 hours a month, to receive food stamps.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has required able-bodied people without dependents to work (volunteer or receive training) since the early-1990s. If the new plan is approved, able-bodied SNAP receipients without dependents will be required to work at least part-time until age 54.

Prses told KSL NewsRadio the end result of this change will mean fewer people covered by SNAP.

“The end result will be a reduction in folks that are eligible to remain covered,” he said.

‘Work requirements don’t increase employment’

Gina Corina, the executive director for Utahns Against Hunger, said she wonders where the benefit of the age increase will show up.

“We are deeply disappointed that the Biden administration agreed to expand the age limit for work requirements,” said Cornia, who also said these work requirements don’t increase employment.

“It just takes benefits away from people who have a lot of barriers to employment,” she said. 

In a tweet, Sen. Mitt Romney said he was encouraged by the debt ceiling negotiations and the changes to the SNAP work requirement.


But Utah’s Sen. Mike Lee said he’ll fight the bill in the Senate if he feels it doesn’t go far enough.

President Biden and Mr. McCarthy came to an initial agreement on debt ceiling negotiations and changes to SNAP on Sunday. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the U.S. will run out of money to pay its bills on June 5.

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Debt-ceiling deal would require people work longer for SNAP benefits