Assemblyman ROY FREIMAN
District 16 (Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset)
Assemblywoman GABRIELA M. MOSQUERA
District 4 (Camden and Gloucester)
Assemblywoman ANNETTE QUIJANO
District 20 (Union)
Requires DHS to submit federal waiver request regarding time limits for certain SNAP recipients under certain circumstances.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning waiver requests for certain eligibility requirements under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and amending P.L.2016, c.11.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. Section 1 of P.L.2016, c.11 (C.44:10-105) is amended to read as follows:
1. a. Immediately upon the effective date of [this act] P.L. , c. (C. )(pending before the Legislature as this bill), provided that the federal Public Health Emergency declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services on January 30, 2020 has expired, or within 30 days of the expiration of that federal Public Health Emergency, the Commissioner of Human Services shall submit to the Food and Nutrition Service within the United States Department of Agriculture a request for a waiver, as authorized by 7 C.F.R. 273.24(f), of the time limit on benefits for able bodied adults without dependents who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The commissioner shall seek either a Statewide waiver for time limits on benefits for this population, or a waiver for select geographic areas of the State.
b. [and at]At least once annually thereafter the submission of the waiver pursuant to subsection a. of this section, the [Commissioner of Human Services] commissioner shall conduct a review of available data on labor and employment in the State produced by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics[. The purpose of the review shall be] in order to determine whether to submit a subsequent request for a waiver of the benefit time limit for able bodied adults without dependents participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [as authorized by 7 C.F.R. 273.24(f), either throughout the State or in any geographic area of the State]. The review shall consider each criterion of eligibility for a waiver as well as the availability of opportunities that will fulfill the work requirement described in 7 C.F.R. 273.24(a). Based on the annual review conducted pursuant to this [section] subsection, the commissioner shall [determine whether to] submit a request for a waiver, when in compliance with federal guidance, either for the entire State, if all geographic areas in the State meet the waiver eligibility criteria, or for any geographic areas of the State that meet such eligibility criteria.
(cf: P.L.2016, c.11, s.1)
2. This act shall take effect on the first day of the second month next following enactment, except the Commissioner of Human Services may take any anticipatory administrative action as shall be necessary for the implementation of this act.
This bill requires the Commissioner of Human Services to apply for a federal waiver of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit time limit for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD), either for the entire State or for any geographic areas in the State that meet federal waiver criteria. Under current law, ABAWDs are eligible for SNAP benefits for three months over a three-year period, unless the individual works a minimum of 20 hours per week, participates in a work program for 20 hours per week, participates in a workfare program, is pregnant, has a physical or mental disability that prohibits work, has an individual under the age of 18 in the same household, or is exempt from the general work requirements for SNAP.
Pursuant to the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act Pub.L.116-127, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) partially suspended the ABAWD benefit time limit, except for an individual who fails to comply with either a work program or workfare program offered by the state in compliance with federal law. This partial suspension of the ABAWD time limit is in effect for the period beginning April 1, 2020 through the end of the month following the month in which the federal COVID Public Health Emergency (PHE) expires. Accordingly, the bill directs the commissioner to submit the waiver application upon the expiration of the PHE, or upon the effective date of the bill, if the PHE has already expired.
This bill also clarifies current law by requiring the commissioner to review State labor and employment data annually, and subsequently submit a request for a waiver of the ABAWD benefit time limit, when in compliance with federal guidance, either for the entire State or for any geographic areas in the State that meet federal waiver criteria. Existing statute simply directs the commissioner to review State labor and employment data, provided by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, and determine whether to submit a waiver request.
Federal criteria for these waivers, established pursuant to 7 U.S.C. s.2015(o)(4) and 7 C.F.R. 273.24(f), specify that the USDA may waive the ABAWD benefit time limit either statewide or in areas of a state that: (1) have an unemployment rate of over 10 percent or (2) do not have a “sufficient number of jobs to provide employment” to the ABAWD population living therein. Federal regulation also specifies the types and sources of employment data that a state may submit in support of a waiver application. The USDA typically approves a state’s waiver application for a period of twelve months.
According to the USDA, in January 2020, prior to the partial suspension of the ABAWD benefit time limit in response to the COVID public health crisis, two states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands operated under statewide ABAWD time limit waivers, while an additional 15 states had ABAWD waivers approved for certain geographic areas within state boundaries. New Jersey was one of 34 states and territories without a waiver for the ABAWD time limit on SNAP benefits prior to the COVID outbreak.