West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed legislation Tuesday requiring food stamp recipients residing in the state to work or volunteer to receive benefits.
The law, which passed the West Virginia legislature this month, will go into effect October 1 and would require West Virginia residents between the ages of 18 to 49 who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to work or volunteer for a minimum of 20 hours per week.
The law exempts those with disabilities, pregnant women, parents of dependent children, and veterans. Benefit recipients who do not meet the exemption or the work requirements will only be able to receive food stamps for three months within a three-year period.
Forty-six of the 55 counties in West Virginia had waivers that exempted them from having to comply with federal guidelines mandating that able-bodied adults without dependent children have to work or volunteer to receive benefits.
Federal law mandates that the work requirements be implemented nationwide, but it allows states to obtain waivers for individual counties if their 12-month average unemployment rate goes above ten percent, or if the 24-month average unemployment rate is 20 percent more than the national average.
However, the counties can no longer use the waivers under the new law.