About 2,000 able-bodied adults could lose their Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program benefits if they don’t begin gainful employment or some type of job training by the end of the year.
Annie Soto of the Bureau of Economic Services at the Department of Public Health and Social Services said each month, an average of 15,518 local households receive SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps. Of that number, she said, about 2,000 people will have to begin working 20 hours a week or 80 hours a month if they want to keep their benefits.
SNAP has the Guam Employment and Training Program that clients can participate in, Soto said. She added that DPHSS also is working with the Guam Department of Labor to help affected clients and to ensure no one loses the benefits they need.
“We are sending letters out to those who will be affected,” Soto told The Guam Daily Post. “But they have to make sure that they apply to the work program or some other program and report in so that they don’t lose their benefits."
Those 2,000 individuals each receive about $283 a month – or roughly $500,000 collectively a month – in SNAP benefits.
GDOL Director David Dell I'solla, on Wednesday morning with Ray Gibson on The Point radio talk show, said they’ve been in contact with DPHSS and are gearing up for what could be an onslaught of people looking for jobs or job training opportunities.
“Get a jump and come on down to the American Job Center,” Dell'Isola said. “We’ll start putting together your resume … getting you trained and get you into a job.”
Able-bodied adults under the program are described as those who are between the ages of 18 and 49, who have no dependents and don't have disabilities.
For more than 20 years, Guam has requested and received exemption on the time limit for able-bodied adults. However, on Tuesday, DPHSS announced that the U.S. Food and Nutrition Service did not approve the latest application.
Soto said the time limit for able-bodied adults on SNAP benefits starts Oct. 1.
“Essentially you have until the end of the year … because it's three months from Oct. 1,” she said. “So there’s time to join the work program.”
Frequently asked questions:
Soto said some of the questions she’s been asked include:
Question: I’m a single parent of elementary school-age children, will I be affected?
Answer: No. You are not considered an able-bodied adult if you are residing in a household where a household member is under age 18, pregnant or exempt from the SNAP work requirements.
Q: I’m a senior citizen dependent on social security and food stamp. Will I have to go back to work?
A: No. The three-month time limit applies only to people under the age of 18 or who are 50 years old or older.
Q: What about parents who have young children?
A: They are exempt because they are responsible for a dependent child in their SNAP household.
Q: What if you’re self-employed?
A: You must submit a verification of income, such as the monthly Gross Receipts Tax filings, which would help the caseworker when calculating the amount of hours worked.
Q: What about people who don’t work outside of home because they are caregivers for parents or other family members?
A: We need a doctors certification that they’re providing care for another person.
Q: What about people with disabilities who rely on food stamps?
A: You are exempt. People who are medically certified as physically or mentally unfit for employment are not impacted by the time limit.