How to SNAP: Work Exemption Rules

In most areas, there are work requirements to receive SNAP. You can be on SNAP for a limited period of time, but after this, you will need to be either working or join a work training program. Your SNAP case worker can connect you with a job training program.

There are a few exceptions to these rules. In most areas, you will be exempt from work requirements if any of the following are true:

🍎 You over age 50

🍎 You are under age 18

🍎 You are on Social Security disability or another form of government disability

🍎 You are not on disability, but your doctor verifies that you are unable to work due to your illness or disability (see below).

🍎 You are responsible for the care of a child

🍎 You are responsible for the care of an incapacitated household member

🍎 You are pregnant

🍎 Please check the rules in your state. Some states have additional exemptions for other populations. Examples of policies from Minnesota and Massachusetts.

Work Exemption for Illness or Disability

If you are unable to meet the work requirements because of your illness or disability, you may be exempt from these requirements if your doctor writes a letter or signs a form. Ask your snap case worker for a form that your doctor can sign to give you a work exemption.

If your state does not have a form, then you can provide a letter from your doctor. Ideally, your letter from your doctor will state that you are “unfit for work” due to physical or mental impairment. Your doctor does not need to close disclose details about your condition. Example of a policy from Minnesota:

“Unfit for Employment is defined as someone physically or mentally unfit for employment. This exemption is for those who have a mental or physical illness which limits the individual from being able to obtain or retain employment.”

Minnesota lists several groups that qualify, including: “Individuals having a mental or physical illness, injury or incapacity which impairs the individual’s ability to obtain or retain employment as evidenced by professional certification. Professional certification means a statement about a person’s illness, injury, or incapacity that is signed by a Qualified Professional with training and experience to diagnose and to certify the person’s condition.”

Food For Thought

If you are genuinely too sick to work, but your doctor won’t sign this form, that is a huge red flag. A doctor who will not sign a simple food stamps form will never be able to give you the kind of documentation you need to be approved for disability. They may also write things in your records that can cause major problems if you need to apply for disability, or if you are already on disability. Please take a look at Dandelion’s Story.

Next Steps

There are a bunch more food stamps rules and regs it may really help you to know: How to Get Enough Food Stamps to Actually Eat

If you think your food stamps were not processed correctly, here’s some ideas for next steps

Here’s the official SNAP policy on work requirements for able-bodied adults

Updated March 2018. Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons: 

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