Thousands of Illinois SNAP beneficiaries may soon lose benefits

ILLINOIS-  SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) beneficiaries considered Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents (AWAWD) are at risk of losing benefits come December 31, 2018, pending renewal by Governor Bruce Rauner.

According to the IDHS website:

“The SNAP Work Requirement ABAWD Time-Limited Benefits policy applies to able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) who are between the age of 18 through 49, and are receiving SNAP, do not meet an exemption reason and are not residing in a waived area.”

The Illinois State Capitol

Does This Affect Me?

An Illinois SNAP beneficiary who meets one of the exemptions below doesn’t have to worry about the work requirement and time-limited SNAP benefits.

You don’t have to worry about this waiver either way if you are:

  • Under age 18 or 50 years of age or older
  • Physically or mentally unfit to work
  • Pregnant
  • Living in a SNAP household with a child under 18
  • Otherwise exempt from the SNAP Work Provisions in PM 03-15-02

Everyone who is age 18-49 is exempt if there are children under age 18 in the household.

The law states that ABAWDs (those not meeting the requirements above) must register for work and not voluntarily quit a job. It also requires an ABAWD to also work at least 80 hours per month, or take part in an approved workfare program, or perform community service for the required number of hours per month.

The Community service can be with a church or other community organization

If these requirements are not met the ABAWD can only receive 3 full months of SNAP benefits in a 3-year period.

Right now the entire State of Illinois is exempt from the SNAP Work Requirement through December 31, 2018, due to a Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) waiver that went into effect January 1, 2018.

This waiver allows residents to receive SNAP without being limited to the previously mentioned 3 months of SNAP benefits in a 36-month period.

Moving Forward

Governor Rauner can sign the waiver for Illinois ABAWD and get this extended.  However, without this signed waiver, an estimated 260,000 Illinois residents will lose their SNAP benefits.  These include the very poor, veterans, homeless people, pregnant women, and those with significant barriers to employment.

DHS says the waiver meant 174,000 Illinoisans will remain eligible for the benefit in 2018.

Opponents to this signing say Illinois is taking advantage of a “loophole”. Jonathan Ingram, Vice President of research at Foundation for Government Accountability said:

“What the state did is it combined all these counties together so that when you combine a higher unemployment county with a lower one, it brings the average up,” Ingram said. “So they used this gimmick and loophole to really exempt virtually the entire state from these common-sense work requirements.”

Ingram says federal data shows that fewer than 20% of healthy, childless adults on food stamps in Illinois are working.

Gov. Rauner

The Northwestern Illinois Center for Independent Living (NICIL) asks that you contact Governor Rauner’s office and ask him to sign the waiver (or not sign) at:

  1. The Chicago office: 312-814-2121,
  2. Or his Springfield office: 217-782-0244.