MYRTLE BEACH (WBTW) – Some Palmetto State residents who get aid from the Special Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, may soon find themselves without those benefits.
Starting Friday, any able-bodied person without dependents who is using SNAP is only eligible to receive these benefits for three months. This applies even if he or she is currently seeking work or being trained for a new job. Under previous rules, benefits were typically granted to people as long as they were actively seeking work and were willing to take any available job.
A representative from the South Carolina Department of Social Services told News 13 that the three month time limit on benefits is actually a return to normal for the state.
When former President Bill Clinton signed the Welfare Reform Act in 1996, the same three month time limit was included for all states. The law also included an option to waive that time limit provision in case of an economic downturn much like the one that hit the U.S. in 2008.
DSS says now that things are getting better in South Carolina and unemployment is down, the state no longer qualifies for that waiver, and so Friday the three month time limit for SNAP benefits returns.
Many who spoke to News 13 Thursday afternoon were happy to hear about the change.
“Everywhere I go there’s a help wanted sign in the window,” said William Blue, visiting from North Carolina. The Tar Heel State’s three-month time limit took hold in January.
“There’s definitely jobs out there if people look.”
Blue said his son lost his job a few years ago and did any odd jobs he could to avoid taking unemployment.
While most able-bodied people using SNAP in South Carolina will be subject to the changes, there are a few groups that are exempt.
The 3 month time-limit does not apply to individuals who are:
- Under 18 or over 50
- Medically certified as physically or mentally unfit for employment
- Responsible for a dependent child or incapacitated person
- Residing in a household where a household member is under 18
Also excluded from the time limit are those who are exempt from SNAP Work Registration requirements such as an eligible student enrolled in school at least half-time, applicants for or those already receiving unemployment benefits and those in a drug or alcohol treatment and rehab program.
DSS tells News 13 that the three month time limit is a sign that South Carolina is finally bouncing back from the recession of 2008.