The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 requires that Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) participants between the ages 16 and 59 to meet certain work requirements, unless they are exempt or show good cause as to why they cannot work. Whether a participant is required to meet these work requirements is based upon a SNAP eligibility worker (caseworker) making a determination whether an individual is exempt from these work requirements, including a determination whether the individual is physically or mentally unfit for work. FNS offers general guidance and states develop their own policies and procedures with little input from FNS. States are given a great degree of latitude in making determinations regarding unfitness for work exemptions.
FNS has contracted with MEF Associates and its subcontractor, Mathematica, to conduct a study to better understand how states determine whether individuals are exempted from work requirements or have good cause for not meeting work requirements due to a physical or mental limitation. By surveying all 53 state SNAP agencies, which include the states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam, and conducting in-depth case studies of four states, this study will provide FNS with valuable insights into how states develop and implement policies and procedures for making fitness for work determinations. This information can help FNS assess states' needs for technical assistance around fitness for work issues and identify lessons learned to share across all state SNAP agencies.