This page provides information about Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) benefits and work requirements.
Food and Nutrition Services Work Rules
The FNS program has two sets of work rules you may need to follow to receive FNS benefits, the General Work Requirements and the Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependents (ABAWD) Work Requirement/Time Limit Rules. You do not have to follow any of the work rules if you meet an exemption or exception.
Able-bodied adults are:
1) Age 18–52, and
2) Mentally and physically able to work, and
3) Do not have a household member in the home under age 18.
Able-bodied adults are not:
1) Individuals with dependents under the age of 18, or
2) Individuals with a mental or physical disability that prevents them from working, or
3) Individuals who are pregnant.
If you are considered an able-bodied adult, you will be expected to perform some sort of work (see below) to get FNS benefits unless you have some sort of exception or exemption from these requirements.
You Should Tell Your Caseworker If:
1) You have a child under 18 living in your home
2) You are pregnant
3) You have a mental or physical disability that prevents you from working
4) You are a veteran
5) You are experiencing homelessness
6) You are in foster care on your 18th birthday and up to age 24
To get FNS benefits you will need to meet certain requirements for working. There are general work requirements and additional work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD). FNS beneficiaries who are pregnant or have a disability are exempt from the work requirements of able-bodied adults and there are other exceptions as well - see the list above for situations that you should tell your caseworker about.
General work requirements may include:
1) Registering for work (your caseworker will explain and do this for you), or
2) Not voluntarily quitting a job or reducing your work hours below 30 a week without a good reason, or
• “Good reason” may include: lack of transportation, illness, or care of an incapacitated individual
3) Voluntarily participating in FNS Employment and Training (E&T) (if available in your area) and taking a suitable job if offered.
You might not be required to meet the general work requirements if you are:
1) Already working at least 30 hours a week or earning at least $217.50 in pre-tax income per week, or
2) Taking care of a child under age 6 or an incapacitated person, or
3) Receiving TANF, or
4) Receiving or applied for unemployment, or
5) Studying in school or a training program at least half-time (but college students are subject to other eligibility rules), or
6) Have a physical or mental disability that prevents you from working, or
7) Participating regularly in an alcohol or drug treatment program.
If any of these situations apply to you, talk to your DSS caseworker to let them know.
If you are not working 30 hours per week and are considered an ABAWD, you must meet the following work requirements to continue getting FNS benefits:
1) Work at least 80 hours a month (work can be paid or unpaid, volunteer, or for goods or services (something other than money), or
2) Participate in a work program at least 80 hours a month, or
• A work program includes FNS Employment & Training (E&T), TANF work program, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) work program, or another accepted work program.
3) Participate in a combination of work and work program hours for a total of at least 80 hours a month.
If you do not meet the work requirements each month, you may not be able to continue receiving benefits. Talk to your DSS caseworker if you have any questions, concerns, or need further assistance.
FNS beneficiaries may have time limitations, depending on your age.
You must continue to meet ABAWD work requirements to keep getting benefits. FNS beneficiaries who are considered Able-bodied Adults Without Dependents can continue to get FNS benefits if you meet all the work requirements each month and still meet other eligibility requirements. Otherwise, you can receive FNS benefits for up to three (3) months in three (3) years (“the time limit”). The time limit applies to you if you are in the age ranges below and are not meeting the work requirements:
• As of September 1, 2023, you are 18-50 years old.
• As of October 1, 2023, you are 18-52 years old.
• As of October 1, 2024, you are 18-54 years old.
Good news! There are exceptions to these time limits. If you are in at least one of the following categories, then these time-limits do not apply to you:
1. You are in foster care. This means:
a. You are 24 years old or younger, and
b. You were in foster care under the responsibility of the State on the date of your 18th birthday. You can continue to get the foster care exception to time limits as long as you remain in or when you return to foster care.
2. You are a veteran. This means:
a. You are an individual who served in the United States Armed Forces (such as Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard),
b. You are an individual who served in a reserve component of the Armed Forces, and
c. You were discharged or released.
3. You are a person experiencing homelessness. This means:
a. You lack a fixed and regular nighttime residence, or
b. Your primary nighttime residence is one of the following:
• A supervised shelter designed to provide temporary accommodations (such as a welfare hotel or congregate shelter)
• A halfway house or similar institution that provides temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized
• A temporary accommodation for not more than 90 days in the residence of another individual
• A place not designed for, or ordinarily used, as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings (e.g., a hallway, a bus station, a lobby).
If you fit into one of these categories, or have questions about your ABAWD status, please reach out to your county’s Department of Social Services (DSS) to inquire about how you can receive FNS benefits and let them know about the exemption that describes your situation.