Food stamps cut off for some Douglas County recipients
Some food stamp recipients in Douglas County are no longer eligible to receive the federal food assistance, under terms of the national Welfare Reform Act approved last year.
Beginning Feb. 22, residents of Douglas County who received food stamps the previous three months lost their eligibility, if they are between 18 and 50 years old, are able-bodied and have no dependents.
But El Dorado County recipients will remain eligible because of the availability of work and work-training programs, said county welfare officials.
Under terms of the welfare bill approved in August, able-bodied individuals are eligible for three months worth of food stamps in any three-year period. In November, counties across the country notified recipients that the clock was ticking, and that benefits could be cut off after another 90 days.
As with federal assistance to the disabled, legal immigrants will no longer be eligible for food stamps. Backers of the Welfare Reform Act said immigrants who need financial assistance should turn to those who sponsored their entry into the United States.
Recipients are exempt from the cutoff if they are working at least 20 hours a week, are enrolled in vocational school or training program, or are disabled, have dependents or are younger than 18 or older than 50.
Exemptions are also available for residents in counties with greater than 10 percent unemployment or counties that are determined to have a surplus of labor. Neither Douglas nor El Dorado counties are exempt.
In Douglas County, those who do not qualify as employed or are otherwise exempt became ineligible to continue receiving food stamps as of Feb. 22, according to Myla Florence, administrator of Nevada’s State Welfare Division.
“They have been advised that eligibility would end if they don’t meet those qualifications,” Florence said.
Of the 696 food stamp recipients in the county last November, 305 were between the ages of 18 and 50, but Florence said it is unclear how many would continue to receive benefits because they are working, have dependents or are disabled.
Eligible recipients receive between $10 and $120 a month in food stamps, depending on household income. The state’s food stamp caseload was 89,699 in November.
So far, welfare workers have not received any complaints from affected recipients, said Barbara Taylor, social welfare manager of the Carson City district office.
“We have had little reaction from recipients,” Taylor said. “I don’t know if that’s because the public is unaware of the changes, or if it has not greatly impacted them.”
Elsewhere in Nevada, residents of Lincoln County are exempt from the work requirements because unemployment there exceeds 10 percent. Another six counties (Churchill, Eureka, Landers, Lyon, Mineral and White Pine) and two cities (Carson City and North Las Vegas) have been designated as having surplus labor by the state Employment Security Division.
In El Dorado County, the estimated 269 food stamp recipients who would otherwise lose the assistance will remain eligible by participating in the training program, said Lei Anne Wilkinson, who manages employment services and non-assistance food stamp programs.
“We’ve been spending quite a bit of time beefing up our placement and training programs,” Wilkinson said of the 7-year-old food-stamp work training program.
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