In September, Legal Aid of the Bluegrass and the Kentucky Equal Justice Center met with members from the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) to get an update on the newly enforced Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) able-bodied adult rules. During that meeting it was disclosed that that the DCBS had terminated 7,419 adults from receiving SNAP benefits due to non-compliance with the able-bodied adult rule. Starting January 1, 2016, the able-bodied adult SNAP rule started being applied to eight of Kentucky’s Counties. Any able-bodied adult without dependents (ABAWD) who is 18-49 years old and lives in: Jefferson, Bullitt, Harden, Fayette, Warren, Daviess, Henderson, or McCracken Counties may only receive SNAP benefits for 3 months in a 36 month period unless they meet certain requirements. Many of the 7,419 adults who lost their SNAP benefits may not be aware of the many exemptions to the ABAWD rule. There are several possible exemptions to the ABAWD rule such as: if you are working 80 hours a month or volunteering 80 hours a month; if you are physically or mentally unfit to work you can get a written statement from a medical professional with the form FS-704 Statement of Disability or Incapacity, which the local DCBS office can provide to you; if you are caring for a disabled person in the household; if you are a regular participant in a substance use treatment program; if you are participating in SNAP Employment and Training programs such as the Work Experience Program (WEP) or Vocational Educational Skills Training (VEP) for 20 hours per week; if you are pregnant; if you are applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI); if you are enrolled at least half time in college and participate in a work study program; if you have been homeless for more than a year; or if you are receiving unemployment benefits. If your SNAP benefits have been terminated or denied and you believe that you qualify for one of these exemptions you should contact the DCBS office at 1-855-306-8959 and ask for an exemption to the ABAWD rule. If the DCBS office wrongfully denies your exemption and refuses to provide you SNAP benefits you can appeal and request an administrative hearing within 90 days of the written decision from DCBS; the termination or denial notice lists the procedure on how to request an administrative hearing in writing often on the back page of the notice. You can call your local Legal Aid office to see if they can provide representation for the administrative hearing. Legal Aid of the Bluegrass can be reached at 859-431-8200 or at http://kyjustice.org/map. If you do not live in our service area you can go to www.lablaw.org to find the local Legal Aid office for your County.
Stephanie D. Langguth is an attorney at Legal Aid of the Bluegrass, Covington, Kentucky. She received her Juris Doctor from Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law and obtained her Bachelors degree from Northern Kentucky University with a major in Accounting and minor in Business Administration. Her specialty at Legal Aid of the Bluegrass is in the field of public benefits and elder law.