The simple answer is no, the employment requirements do not apply to everyone. Each state is able to outline the employment requirements for SNAP recipients. However, they all follow the same basic guidelines. SNAP work requirements include:
- You must show you are actively looking for work when unemployed.
- If you are employed, you are not allowed to quit your job, and if you are recently unemployed, you may have to provide proof unemployment was not voluntary.
- You also can not intentionally reduce your hours. If your hours were reduced, and that is what made you eligible for SNAP benefits, you may have to provide proof that you did not voluntarily cut your hours.
- If you are offered a job while on SNAP, you have to take it. Turning down gainful employment can make you ineligible for ongoing benefits.
- States offer employment and training programs designed to help individuals receiving aid to find gainful employment and become self-sufficient. Depending on your situation and the state you live in, you may be required to participate in a state-offered program.
There are people exempt from the employment requirements. These people, if income eligible, can receive monthly SNAP benefits regardless of their work situation. The exemption applies to children, seniors, pregnant women, and anyone that is unable to work for health reasons.
Employment requirements are in place for Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWDs). The regulations regarding benefits for ABAWDs are outlined under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. This Act dictates that ABAWDs are limited to 3 months of benefits during a 36-month time period. They are exempt from this limitation only if they are doing one of the following:
- They are working at least 80 hours a month.
- They are complying with an approved workfare program.
- They are involved in training or education activities for at least 80 hours a month that will increase their ability to obtain gainful employment.
However, even if you are able-bodied, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, the employment requirements are waived if you are under 18 or over 50, if you have dependents that need daily care, if you are pregnant, or if you are physically or mentally unable to work. Another exception is if you live in an area with an unemployment rate higher than 10%, and there is evidence of an overall lack of employment opportunities in the area.
States are limited in providing exemptions to 15% of their total caseload of ABAWDs. That means for every 100 ABAWDs they have on SNAP in the state, only 15 can be granted exceptions to the 3-month limit.