Work Requirements and FNS/SNAP

Work Requirement

You may have heard, federal SNAP eligibility rules are changing and are being phased-in in North Carolina. Federal rules became effective January 1, 2016 to reinstitute work requirements in order to receive FNS/SNAP1 for adults without children and who are able to work (referred to as Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents or ABAWDs).1 Work requirements were waived in most states, including North Carolina, after the economic downturn began in 2008 resulting in significant job losses and high unemployment. As a result of an improving economy and lower unemployment, the work requirements for FNS/SNAP have been re-instated and are effective beginning in 2016. 1

Who must meet the work requirements? The work requirements apply to childless, non-disabled adults 18-49 years old who receive FNS/SNAP. Individuals meeting these criteria are classified as “Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents” or “ABAWD.” There are several ways a person classified as ABAWD can meet the work requirements. Examples include paid work, volunteer work, and/or participate in a job-training program at least 80 hours per month. Time spent searching for a job does not count towards the work requirement.

Once a person is classified as an ABAWD he or she must meet the work requirements. An ABAWD who fails to meet the work requirements can only receive FNS/SNAP for three months during a 36-month time period.

Exemptions to the ABAWD work requirement are listed below. A person seeking an exemption should be prepared to provide documentation to support the exemption request.

Exemptions to the work requirement include:2

  • Living in a household with a child under 18 years old
  • Physically or mentally unfit for employment
  • Unable to work due to chronic homelessness
  • Unable to work due to alcohol/drug addiction
  • Pregnant
  • Caring for an incapacitated person
  • Participating in a substance abuse program
  • Receiving unemployment benefits

The More In My Basket team is available to discuss FNS/SNAP eligibility and answer questions about the work requirements. Please call 1-855-240-1451 (English) or 1-888-382-7105 (Spanish) Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm, to speak with a team member.


1 Work requirements were reinstated in 23 counties in North Carolina on January 1, 2016. Those counties include: Alamance, Alexander, Buncombe, Cabarrus, Catawba, Davidson, Davie, Durham, Forsyth, Gaston, Guilford, Haywood, Henderson, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, Orange, Randolph, Union, Wake, Watauga, and Yadkin. Work requirements in the remaining 77 counties go into effect on July 1, 2016. For more information, please refer to the NC Justice Center report, SNAP Policy: The Return of the Harsh Three-Month Time Limit for Childless, Non-Disabled Adults.

2 For more information about exemptions to the work requirement, please visit

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