SNAP work requirements are changing, but not for all Arizonans. Here's what to know

Requirements will soon change for certain Arizona beneficiaries of the nation's largest food supplement program.

As of Sept. 1, new work requirements were introduced nationwide for individuals on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the nation's largest program for food-insecure individuals.

The changes specifically target able-bodied adults without dependents, whom the Arizona Department of Economic Security defines as individuals between the ages of 18 and 52 who are physically and mentally fit for work and lack dependents who are minors.

Those changes won't be implemented until Oct. 1 in Arizona, however, giving impacted beneficiaries roughly a month to meet work requirements. And beneficiaries who meet certain criteria won't be impacted at all, including people living outside of Maricopa County.

Here is what Arizonans need to know about the new requirements.

Who is considered an able-bodied adult without dependents?

The Arizona Department of Economic Security defines able-bodied adults without dependents as people between the ages of 18 and 52 who are physically and mentally fit for work and lack dependents who are minors.

Unless these beneficiaries meet the new work requirements, the federal government only allows them to receive three months of SNAP benefits within a three-year period.

What are the new SNAP work requirements?

Per the Arizona Department of Economic Security, in order to maintain SNAP benefits, able-bodied adults without dependents must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Work 80 hours per month. This includes any combination of:

    • Paid work

    • Self-employment

    • Volunteer work

    • In-kind work: working in exchange for food, rent, or other needs. Proof must include the value of the work and the number of hours worked.

  • Participate in an approved Nutrition Assistance Employment and Training activity a minimum of 80 hours per month; job search activities cannot exceed 10 hours a week.

  • Participate in a combination of work and an approved Nutrition Assistance Employment and Training activity for a minimum of 80 hours per month.

  • Show good cause for not meeting work requirements such as having an illness, not having transportation, or unreasonable working conditions.

Can a beneficiary be exempted?

According to Tasya C. Peterson, press secretary for the Arizona Department of Economic Security, there is a statewide waiver in place that gives able-bodied adults without dependents until Sept. 30 to meet the new work requirements.

Those living outside of Maricopa County or on a reservation will also be exempted from meeting the new requirements.

Exceptions also exist for people experiencing homelessness, veterans, and former foster care youth. A full list of exceptions can be found on des.az.gov/ABAWD.

New work requirements for SNAP eligible adults without dependents threaten to kick hundreds of thousands off food stamps.
New work requirements for SNAP eligible adults without dependents threaten to kick hundreds of thousands off food stamps.

Why are the work requirements changing?

USA Today previously reported that work requirements for SNAP benefits were a key part of the debt ceiling negotiations.

Several Republicans continue to push for more aggressive cuts to SNAP. And while adding the work requirements allowed the recent debt bill to pass in June, a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 750,000 adults nationally could lose their benefits.

In Arizona, one in nine adults and one in six kids already suffer from food insecurity.

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How many Arizona residents are on SNAP benefits?

As of May 2023, 900,643 Arizona residents were on SNAP benefits, data from the United States Department of Agriculture shows.

USDA data also shows that eligible individuals in Arizona underparticipate in SNAP benefits compared with the rest of the country — in 2018, only 77% of eligible Arizona residents enrolled in SNAP compared with 82% nationally.

How to enroll in SNAP benefits

The SNAP benefits enrollment process can be done online.

Head to https://www.healthearizonaplus.gov/Login/Default to create an account and apply. The website has the option of translating into several languages for non-English speaking individuals.

The process includes verifying that you submitted complete and accurate information and an in-person interview with the Arizona Department of Economic Security.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: New SNAP work requirements: What to know if you live in Arizona