While SNAP is intended to ensure no one in our land of plenty should fear going hungry, its rules also reflect the importance of work and responsibility.
The General Work Requirements
SNAP has two sets of work requirements. If you are age 16 – 59 and able to work, you will probably need to meet the general work requirements to get SNAP benefits. The general work requirements include registering for work, participating in SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) or workfare if assigned by your state SNAP agency, taking a suitable job if offered, and not voluntarily quitting a job or reducing your work hours below 30 a week without a good reason.
You are excused from the general work requirements if you are any one of these things:
- Already working at least 30 hours a week (or earning wages at least equal to the federal minimum wage multiplied by 30 hours)
- Meeting work requirements for another program (TANF or unemployment compensation)
- Taking care of a child under 6 or an incapacitated person
- Unable to work due to a physical or mental limitation
- Participating regularly in an alcohol or drug treatment program
- Studying in school or a training program at least half-time (but college students are subject to other eligibility rules).
If you have to meet the general work requirements but you don’t, you are disqualified from getting SNAP for at least a month and must start meeting the requirements to get SNAP again. If you get back on SNAP and then don’t meet the requirements again, then you are disqualified for longer than a month and you could be disqualified forever.
The Able Bodied Adult Without Dependents (ABAWD) Work Requirement and Time Limit
If you are age 18–49, able to work, and don’t have any dependents, you might need to meet both the general work requirements and an additional work requirement for ABAWDs to get SNAP for more than 3 months in 3 years (the time limit). You can meet the ABAWD work requirement by doing any one of these things:
- Work at least 80 hours a month. Work can be for pay, for goods or services (for something other than money), unpaid, or as a volunteer;
- Participate in a work program at least 80 hours a month. A work program could be SNAP Employment and Training or another federal, state, or local work program;
- Participate in a combination of work and work program hours for a total of at least 80 hours a month;
- Participate in workfare for the number of hours assigned to you each month (the number of hours will depend on the amount of your SNAP benefit.)
You are excused from the ABAWD work requirement and time limit if you are any one of these things:
- Unable to work due to a physical or mental limitation;
- Have someone under 18 in your SNAP household;
- Excused from the general work requirements (see above).
If you have to meet the ABAWD work requirement but you don’t, you will lose your benefits after 3 months. To get SNAP again, you must meet the ABAWD work requirement for a 30-day period or become excused. Otherwise, you need to wait until the end of your 3-year period, when you’ll get another 3 months under the time limit.