July 16, 2020

Will Florida reimpose work requirement for food stamps? [Orlando Sentinel]

Kate Santich writes:

"For the hundreds of thousands of 'able-bodied adults' relying on food stamps during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s unclear whether Florida officials will once again require them to work or search for work despite soaring unemployment levels, advocates said Wednesday.

The waiver of work requirements had been set to expire June 30 — the date still listed on the Florida Department of Children and Families website Wednesday afternoon. The agency, which administers the federally funded government benefit, has issued no news releases on the subject and has not answered inquiries from lawmakers and nonprofit leaders.


Cindy Huddleston, a senior policy analyst for the Florida Policy Institute [emphasis added] — an independent research nonprofit — said she was told by a DCF official that the work requirement was being reinstated. But she hopes the state will reconsider.

Not only is the requirement itself unrealistic given the current economy, she said, but, as the state’s unemployment benefits web portal fiasco demonstrated, just filing the documents required can be an insurmountable hurdle.

'It’s very scary,' she said. 'What ends up happening is that a lot of people lose their benefits for reasons that have nothing to do with eligibility. It’s especially a challenge for families who are not able to use a computer to file their applications or who don’t have internet access, which a lot of low-income residents don’t. They rely on their cell phones.'"


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