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Food Stamps Work Requirements [2022 Guide]

If you are applying for SNAP EBT benefits, or are currently receiving benefits, it is important to know the Food Stamps Work Requirements. This will help you get approved for food stamp benefits, as well as keep your SNAP benefits.

Additionally, if you are considered an Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependents (ABAWDs), there are special rules that apply.

To learn more about the Food Stamps Work Requirements for 2022, including how to qualify and who is exempt from the SNAP work requirements, continue reading below.

In this article, we will cover:

  • General Food Stamps Work Requirements for 2022
  • Food Stamps Work Requirements Exemptions
  • What Happens to People Who Fail SNAP Work Requirements
  • ABAWD Food Stamps Work Requirements
  • What Happens to People Who Fail ABAWD Work Requirements?
  • Food Stamps Work Requirements FAQs

"Food Stamps Work Requirements"

What are Food Stamps Work Requirements?

The food stamps program is the largest and most effective safety net for Americans facing financial instability and hardship.

SNAP feeds about 41 million Americans annually, at an average cost of $2.42 per meal.

The food stamps program has two sets of work requirements – a general work requirement that applies to all program participants.

In addition, there are additional work requirements that apply to Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependents (ABAWD).

General Food Stamps Work Requirements for 2022

General Food Stamps Work Requirements for 2022

The primary goal of the food stamps program is to help low-income individuals and households afford nutritious food. In addition, the program seeks to help recipients achieve self-sufficiency by emphasizing the importance of work – through the food stamps work requirements.

Current federal law states that adults ages 16 to 59 must meet the general work requirements to get SNAP benefits.

The general Food Stamps Work Requirements for 2022 include:

  • Registering for work
  • Participating in a SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) Program
  • Completing workfare assigned by your state SNAP agency
  • Not voluntarily reducing work hours below 30hrs per week
  • Not voluntarily quitting a job
  • Accepting a suitable job with 30 hours of work per week

You must meet one of the list Food Stamp Work Requirements to qualify for SNAP benefits or to continue receiving monthly benefits.

If you fail to meet the food stamp work requirements, you will be denied benefits.

However, there are cases where you may be exempt from meeting the Food Stamps Work Requirements. To find out who does not have to meet the SNAP work requirements, then continue reading below.

Food Stamps Work Requirements Exemptions

Select individuals do not have to meet the SNAP work requirement rules to receive food stamp benefits.

You are excused from the general food stamp work requirements if you are:

  • 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 the age of 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 part-time* (*college students are subject to other eligibility rules)

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What Happens to People Who Fail SNAP Work Requirements?

If you do not meet the SNAP work requirements, you are disqualified from getting food stamp benefits for at least a month.

In addition, you must meet the requirements in order to start receiving SNAP EBT benefits again.

Once you meet the requirements, you cannot fail to meet the SNAP Work Requirements again. If you fail to do so, you will be disqualified from receiving food stamp benefits for a longer period of time – and potentially, forever.

ABAWD Food Stamps Work Requirements for 2022ABAWD Food Stamps Work Requirements for 2022

If you are between the age of 18 and 49, are able to work, do not have children and are not disabled, you are considered an Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependents (ABAWD).

Stricter SNAP work requirements apply to able-bodied adults without dependents.

In fact, federal law requires that ABAWDs meet special work requirements in order to get benefits for more than 3 months within a 3-year period. This is called the ABAWD time limit.

What are ABAWD Food Stamps Work Requirements?

Able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) can only receive SNAP EBT benefits for 3 months in a 3-year period if they do not meet the extra work requirements.

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, unpaid, or volunteer.
  • Participate in a Work Program at least 80 hours a month – includes the SNAP Employment and Training or another federal, state, or local work program.
  • Work and participate in a Work Program for a combined total of at least 80 hours per 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).

NOTE: Your state may have stricter work requirements for ABAWDs. See below for additional state restrictions if applicable. 

ABAWD Food Stamps Work Exemptions

Similar to the general food stamps work requirements, there are exemptions to the work requirements for ABAWDs. There are particular cases in which an ABAWD does not have to meet the Work Requirement rules.

If one of the following ABAWD Food Stamps Work Exemptions applies to you, you can receive food stamps for more than three months.

You are excused from the ABAWD work requirement and time limit if you are:

  • Unable to work due to a physical or mental limitation
  • Are currently Pregnant
  • Have someone under 18 in your SNAP household
  • Excused from the general SNAP work requirements

What Happens to People Who Fail ABAWD Work Requirements?

You must meet the ABAWD food stamps work requirements to receive SNAP benefits beyond the 3-month period. If you don’t, you will lose your benefits.

At that point, to receive SNAP benefits again you must:

  1. Meet the ABAWD work requirement for a 30-day period, or
  2. become excused by filing a waiver with your state.

Otherwise, you need to wait until your 3-year period restarts. That is when you will get another three months of benefits until the ABAWD time limit.

ABAWD Time Limit

The ABAWD time limit for food stamps recipients is 3 months in a 3-year period.

However, the law allows states to temporarily waive the ABAWD time limit for those households in areas that do not have a sufficient number of jobs.

Areas that qualify for the ABAWD time limit exemption are those with an Unemployment Rate over 10 percent.

However, an ABAWD time limit waiver does not waive the general SNAP work requirements. These will still apply to your household.

To get excused from the ABAWD time limit and work requirements, check our the ABAWD Waivers Status for your state.

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Food Stamps Work Requirements FAQs

Here are the most frequently asked questions about food stamps work requirements.

How many hours do you have to work to get food stamps?

If you are age 18 – 59 and able to work, you must meet the general work requirements in order to receive food stamps, unless you are exempted (see exemptions above). 

To meet the general work requirements, you must:

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

In addition, Able-bodied but jobless adults without children or a disability (ABAWD) must meet the following additional work requirement. They must either:

  • Be working or participating in a job training program at least 20 hours per week (an average of 80 hours per month), OR
  • Volunteering with a community service provider for a certain number of hours to continue receiving food stamps for more than three months.

You may also do a combination of work, work program, and community service activities to meet the 20 hours per week requirement.

What should an ABAWD do to maintain SNAP if not employed at least 20 hours a week?

If the ABAWD is not participating in work or qualifying work/training activities and he/she wants to continue to receive SNAP beyond the three-month time limit, he/she should contact their local food stamps office to ask for help enrolling in a qualifying activity.

The local food stamps office is required to offer and provide a qualifying work or training opportunity to all ABAWDs who are subject to the ABAWD requirements to maintain or re-establish eligibility for SNAP benefits.

They will also help the individual by offering the ability to engage in an activity that will meet the ABAWD work requirement.

Can I get food stamps if I don’t have a job?

Generally, people who collect food stamps may be required to work or participate in a training program. See the general food stamps work requirement above.

However, there are some exceptions.

In addition, the work requirements may be are waived in most urban counties and many rural counties with high unemployment rates or a demonstrable lack of sufficient jobs.

To find out if food stamps work requirements have been waived in your area, call your county food stamps office.

If the work requirements apply to you, you must be working or be enrolled in a job training program for at least 20 hours a week.

Work can include activities like school, vocational rehabilitation, job search, and more.

If you fall below 20 hours a week, you must report that change to your caseworker.

If you do not meet these requirements, you can only get food stamps for three months every three years.

You can also be denied food stamps if you quit a job without a good reason or refuse a job offer.

Does my employer know if I get food stamps?

Whether or not you’ve received public assistance, such as food stamps isn’t a matter of public record, and no employer can get that information without your written consent.

As part of your pre-employment verification, your employer may want to pull a credit report before hiring you, however, these reports don’t include any public assistance payments.

In addition, an employer may ask on a job application if you’ve recently been on welfare or another form of public assistance.

This is generally because government incentives sometimes reward employers for hiring from specific groups, including welfare recipients.

For example, The Work Opportunity Tax Credit, or WOTC, pays employers a federal tax credit of up to $9,600 for hiring employees who have been on welfare.

Who is Not Subject to ABAWD requirements?

A SNAP recipient who meets any of the following conditions is not subject to ABAWD work requirements.

However, in some instances you may still be required to participate in work activities that are assigned under public assistance and/or SNAP employment and training.

These instances include:

  • People under 18 years of age, or 50 years of age or older
  • Adults in a SNAP household with a child under 18 years of age
  • Full-time caretakers of an incapacitated person
  • Pregnant women
  • Adults physically or mentally unable to work at least 80 hours a month
  • Regular participants in an alcohol or substance abuse rehabilitation program
  • Recipients of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation
  • Recipients of disability benefits from a public or private source, such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or NYS disability benefits
  • Pending or current recipients of Unemployment Insurance Benefits (UIB)
  • Students enrolled in any recognized school, job skills training, or institution of higher education at least half-time and meeting the student eligibility criteria to receive SNAP
  • Applicants for SNAP benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) jointly or in receipt of SSI
  • Employed or self-employed adults that are working at least 30 hours per week or receiving weekly earnings at least equal to the federal minimum wage times 30 (currently $217.50 per week)

Food Stamps Work Requirements Summary

We hope this post about Food Stamps Work Requirements was helpful to you. If you have questions about the general Food Stamps Work Requirements or SNAP requirements for ABAWDs, please let us know in the comments section below.

If you have additional questions about the Food Stamps Program or SNAP EBT Card, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

For more help on with your Food Stamps, check out our other articles here:

Can you get Food Stamps without a Job?
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Kwame Kuadey

Kwame Kuadey writes about personal finance and the social safety net. His career started in banking but he caught the entrepreneurial bug and has spent the last decade building successful businesses, including an Inc. 500 Company. Kwame believes everyone has the power to improve their quality of life by seeking knowledge and taking action. In 2012, Kwame founded Empower Media to help low-income households improve their financial situation. His expertise is in topics relevant to low-income households, including government benefits and assistance, banking products, access to credit, plus tools & resources to help reduce income volatility and build wealth. Kwame has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc. Magazine, Washington Post, ABC, and NPR.



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