Food Stamps: Work Requirements and Exemptions

Last Updated On: 5/14/2019 2:37:23 PM

What are SNAP benefits?

SNAP benefits are another name for Food Stamps.

What is an ABAWD?

ABAWD stands for “Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents.” If you get SNAP and DHHR says you are an “ABAWD” it means you:

  • Are between the ages of 18-49;
  • Do not have a child or an older or disabled person you care for;
  • Are someone that DHHR believes to be “fit to work”; and
  • Live in a county where DHHR believes there are jobs available that you can get. As of January 1, 2019, the counties where DHHR believes there are jobs are Cabell, Kanawha, Putnam, Harrison, Marion, Monongalia, Morgan, Berkley, Jefferson, Doddridge, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Monroe, Ohio, Pendleton, Preston, Taylor and Tucker.

What does it mean for my SNAP benefits if DHHR says that I am an ABAWD?

If DHHR says that you are an ABAWD, you will have to get a job or show that you are “exempt” from the work requirement in order to keep your SNAP benefits. You can only get SNAP for 3 months if you do not have a job and DHHR says you are an ABAWD.

If I’m not working, but I’m looking for work, can I get SNAP benefits?

If you are not working but you are looking for work, you can only get SNAP Food Stamps for 3 months within a 3-year period.

If DHHR says I am an ABAWD, how many hours a week do I need to work to keep SNAP Food Stamps for more than 3 months?

You need to work or take part in a work program for at least 20 hours a week.

If DHHR says I am an ABAWD, how do I show I am “exempt” from the work requirements of SNAP?

You do not need to work 20 hours a week to get Food Stamps as an ABAWD if:

  1. A doctor gives a statement to DHHR saying you are mentally or physically “unfit” for work
  2. You are pregnant
  3. You are in a drug or alcohol treatment program, if that program prohibits employment
  4. You get unemployment compensation
  5. You get disability benefits from the government or an employer
  6. You have children who are not old enough for school
  7. You get SNAP benefits with someone under the age of 18
  8. You are responsible for the care of a disabled adult
  9. You are at least a half time student, and follow SNAP rules

If I’m looking for work, and can only find 5-10 hours of work here and there, can I get SNAP food stamps for more than just 3 months?

If you can only get in 5-10 hours of work, DHHR will send you to the SNAP Employment and Training (E & T) program. SNAP E&T is a voluntary program that you must enroll into. If you choose to take part, you can meet your 20-hour per week work requirement. 

I am having trouble finding work and I am not on the above exempt list for ABAWD. I still need food stamps, so what can I do?

You should contact DHHR and they will refer you to the Employment and Training (E & T) program in your county. If you enroll in and take part of, the Employment and Training program will count as a work program. The Employment and Training Program will meet the work requirement for SNAP.

The E&T program also allows you to do community service for a non-profit, charity, or religious charity to count for your SNAP work requirement. To have it count, you must have someone from the non-profit, charity, or religious charity sign that you do 20 hours of community service a week. 

If you have any other questions, you may call the DHHR Customer Service Center at 1-877-716-1212 or your local DHHR office to report that you are exempt on the list above. You can also call them to ask for a referral to the SNAP Employment and Training program.

What do I do if I need food and do not qualify for SNAP or SNAP has run out?

You can contact 211 by dialing 2-1-1 or going online to find food pantries in your area.

This is general legal information. For guidance about your situation, talk to a lawyer.