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Michigan implements work requirement for food assistance

The work requirement has already been re-implemented in 14 counties
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Starting today, 67,000 people who received a letter from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and are able-bodied have three months to find a job or lose their benefits.

New applicants who meet the work criteria will have to start work immediately in order to have their application accepted. Persons who already are receiving food assistance have their eligibility reviewed once a year. They'll have three months to find work after their annual case meeting.

The requirements had been lifted in 2002 due to high unemployment in the state. Improvement in the unemployment rate led the federal government to insist that Michigan reinstate the requirements.

The requirement already has been re-implemented in 14 counties.

Anyone subjected to the requirements has to work an average of 20 hours a week each month, participate in an approved job training program for 20 hours a week each month, or participate in community service at a nonprofit group.

If you're already on food assistance, you'll have some time. Once a year, people on food assistance have their eligibility reviewed. Starting on your next annual review after Oct. 1, you will have three months to begin work or you will lose your benefits.

In Wayne and Macomb counties, among others, Michigan Works! Agencies will help provide job training to people subject to the new requirements.

Michigan is one of 17 states that imposes harsh sanctions on able-bodied beneficiaries, extending disqualification periods unless a work requirement is met within the first three months of enrollment, according the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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