CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS)– The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) wants to remind working adults of changes to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

The federal requirement will go into affect in the new year, starting on Jan. 1, 2020. The following counties that will be affected in southern West Virginia are: Greenbrier, Mercer, Monroe, Raleigh, and Summers.

“The goal of this policy is to provide needed employment and training opportunities for those defined as an ABAWD (Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents) in the identified counties,” Commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Children and Families, Linda Watts stated in a release.

To obtain SNAP benefits recipients in the selected counties, you must be 18 years old, but not currently 50, who have no dependent children, must either qualify for an exemption or consistently participant in a work or educational activity for a monthly average of 20 hours per week.

“The counties selected for this counties selected for this program have the lowest unemployment rates in West Virginia, which indicates an economic environment conducive to workforce re-entry,” Watts continued.

According to the release, participants in these counties will be exempt from the work of educational activity requirement if they meet one of the following exemptions: receiving SNAP benefit with an individual under the age of 18; working 30 hours per week or earning $217.50 per week; receiving unemployment compensation; regularly participating in a drug addiction or alcoholic treatment and rehabilitation program; responsible for caring for an incapacitate adult; medically certified as unfit for work; receiving veteran disability income; or currently at least a half-time student.

The DHHR is partnering up with WorkForce West Virginia to offer the SNAP Employment and Training Program to assist SNAP recipients who must meet the work requirement. The release further states, to accommodate these individuals, DHHR will collaborate with WorkForce Development Boards to help with placement in an educational activity, a work related program to prepare for employment, or to gain employment.

Other counties under the new requirements: Barbour, Berkely, Boone, Cabell, Dodderidge, Grant, Hampshire, Hancock, Hardy, Harrison, Jefferson, Kanawha, Lewis, Marion, Marshall, Mineral, Monongalia, Morgan, Ohio, Pendleton, Preston, Putnam, Randolph, Ritchie, Taylor, Tucker, Upshur, Wayne, and Wood.