Food Stamps Work Requirements by State – 2020

According to Federal government rules, individuals between ages 18 and 50 years old who have no children and are not disabled must meet specific work requirements in order to continue to get more than three months of food stamps in a 36 month period. These individuals are called “Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents,” or “ABAWDs.” In this post, we will provide the most current food stamps work requirements by state.

An able-bodied adult between the ages of 18 to 49 without dependents is considered an ABAWD.  Individuals with children in the household or who are mentally or physically unfit for employment are not considered ABAWDs.

ABAWDs may qualify for a maximum of three months of Nutrition Assistance in a 36 month period, unless they either comply with the work or training requirements or qualify for an exemption.

Food stamps work requirements are set by the federal government through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

However, states have the flexibility to set stricter guidelines.

We have provided the federal guidelines below – which all states must follow.

We have also provided state-specific ones that may be more strict than the federal one. Be sure to review your state’s specific requirement to make sure you meet them before apply for food stamps.


The state of Alabama has very strict work requirements when it comes to eligibility for food stamps. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the work requirements below before applying for benefits.

Unless exempt from work registration, each member of your household must meet the following work requirements:

    • must be registered for work
    • must not quit a job voluntarily
    • must not voluntarily reduce hours at a job
    • must accept a suitable job that is offered. (The job must be 30 hours weekly or equal to 30 hours X minimum wage).

If a non-exempt member of your household fails to meet work requirements, he or she cannot get food assistance. This could reduce or stop your household’s food assistance.

People between 18 and 50 years old who have no children and are not disabled must meet other special work requirements if they want to get food assistance.

There are exceptions to the three-month time limit.

Someone between 18 and 50 can get food assistance for more than three months if the person meets any one of these exceptions:

  • The person works at least 80 hours a month.
  • The person receives disability benefits.
  • The person receives unemployment compensation.
  • Anyone who has applied for unemployment compensation but has not heard yet is also exempt while waiting for a decision.
  • The person who is not receiving disability but has a physical or mental problem that limits the work [s]he can do. This may have to be verified by a doctor or other medical
  • professional.
  • The person is unfit for work. For example, chronic homelessness may be an indicator that someone is unfit for work.
  • There is a child in the home less than 18 years old
  • The person cares for an adult who is incapacitated
  • The person is pregnant.
  • The person gets Family Assistance and is in a Family Assistance work program.
  • The person goes to a job training program at least 80 hours a month.
  • The person volunteers at least 80 hours a month doing something that serves a public purpose.
  • The total amount of time the person spends each month working, going to training and volunteering is at least 80 hours a month.
  • The person goes to school at least half time.
  • The person goes to rehab for alcohol or drugs.
  • The person works at least 80 hours a month for non-monetary benefits. For example, the person works for free rent or utilities.


To receive SNAP benefits, most able-bodied people between 16 and 59 years old must register for work, participate in the Employment & Training Program if offered, accept offers of employment, and cannot quit a job.


ABAWDs may qualify for a maximum of three months of Nutrition Assistance in a 36 month period, unless they either comply with the work or training requirements or qualify for an exemption.

To comply with the work requirements, ABAWDs must:

  • Be working at least 80 hours a month;
  • Register and participate in at least 80 hours a month of job search or training with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Employment and Training (SNA E&T); or
  • Complete at least 80 hours per month as a combination of work and participation with SNA E&T.

To qualify for an exemption, individuals must fit into one of the following categories:

  • Under the age of 18 or 50 years of age or older
  • Resides with a minor who is a member of the budgetary unit
  • Caretaker for an incapacitated individual
  • Physically or mentally unfit for employment
  • Participant in a drug or alcohol treatment or rehabilitation program
  • Pregnant
  • Student (at least half-time)
  • Applied for or receiving Unemployment Insurance
  • Participant in Other Work Program
  • Transitional Benefit Assistance (TBA)
  • Chronic homelessness
  • Live in a geographically exempt area (see below)
  • Victim of domestic violence

In addition to the above exemptions, participants living in the following geographic areas are exempt:

  • All American Indian reservations except the Yavapai‑Prescott Indian reservation
  • Apache Junction
  • Every county except Maricopa, Pima, and Yavapai



Healthy adults, 18 to 50 years of age, who do not have dependent children or are not pregnant, can only get food assistance benefits for 3 months in a 3-year period if they are not working or participating in a work or workfare program.
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia



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