Federal food assistance work requirements are being reinforced in the New Year for some Livingston County residents that want to continue receiving benefits.

Michigan began receiving a waiver from the federal requirements in 2002 due to high unemployment, but with an improved economy and a significant reduction in the jobless rate, the state is no longer eligible. It does not affect people with families or children. That means to continue receiving the assistance in the form of a bridge card, able-bodied adults will have to work or volunteer their time for an average of 20 hours per week, each month in unsubsidized employment or in an approved employment and training program. They can also qualify by participating in community service by volunteering at a non-profit organization. Able bodied adults are defined as recipients ages 18 to 49 without dependents who do not have a disability that prevents them from working or who meet other federal criteria that exempts them from the requirements.

The changes are effective January 1st and individuals will have three months from that time to find a job or meet other requirements, although there are further exemptions. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services administers the benefits and earlier sent out notices to those impacted in ten counties including Livingston to notify them of the upcoming change. Approximately 16,000 people are affected by the change in the ten counties, including approximately 1,190 people in Livingston County.

The state has been implementing the work requirements in phases. Livingston is among ten identified in the second phase of the reinstated requirements. Counties identified in the first two phases can be attributed to their low unemployment rates and better job situations. The waiver is expected to be phased out statewide by October 2018 or sooner. Those impacted should speak to their MDHHS case specialist or visit the link is provided. (JM)