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Once a new law takes effect, some residents in North Carolina will have to meet work requirements in order to get benefits. This will affect 2,814 individuals in the rural Robeson County. This is out of the county’s 45,000 beneficiaries.

Last September the lawmakers passed the bill and it was signed in October by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in October.

This is actually a reinstatement of the federal work requirement which was part of The Personal
Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. This was suspended after the 2008 recession hit.

The changes in this law will require that the following meet requirements to receive benefits: any childless, able-bodied adult between ages 18 and 49. They must meet certain work requirements in order to continue to receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

They will have three months to find a job, volunteer somewhere, or enter a work-training program. Now if they don’t, their benefits will be cut. Even if they are working 20 hours a week or are actively trying to find work, their benefits may still be cut.

If someone is disqualified then they can get their benefits back, showing that they can in fact meet the work requirements as per the 30-day period, and then beyond that period.

January 1st is when the changes will be enforceable, taking place in the state’s most urbanized counties, where employment is the lowest.

Here’s what Sherry Bradsher who is the deputy secretary of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services had to say:

“If jobs are available, we want to encourage work.”

But more rural counties such as Robeson won’t see the changes until July 1st, as this is the beginning of the new fiscal year.

That county gets around $5.5 million in SNAP money per month, or about $66 million per year. Basically that’s around $36 worth of food per person every month.

Sally Speights is the program manager who oversees SNAP benefits for Robeson County’s Department of Social Services and had this to say:

“Those who fall under the able-bodied adult category with no dependent children will be reviewed to ensure that they are meeting all requirements every three months. Today, food stamp re-certifications are all done every six months.”

A shortage of available jobs in the county has been the argument from State House Rep. Charles Graham and state Sen. Jane Smith. They are two Democrats who represent Robeson County at the state capitol and they voted against the reform bill.

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