56. Are there work rules for SNAP?

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Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

Any member of your household who is 16 or older and under 60 years old – and not exempt – must register for work during the SNAP application process. This happens when you sign the application1. SNAP work registration rules are different from the ABAWD time limit rules.


The SNAP ABAWD 3-month time limit is not currently in effect in Massachusetts. Stay tuned for updates during 2024.

If you are between 16 and 59 years old, unless you are exempt, you agree when you sign the SNAP application that while you are getting SNAP:

  • You will not quit a job where you are working 30 hours a week or more unless you have a good reason (“good cause”).
  • If you are working 30 hours or more, you will not reduce your hours to less than 30 hours a week unless you have a good reason.
  • If you are offered a job, you must accept it unless you have a good reason to refuse. See rules while on strike on “good cause.”

Sometimes these rules are called the “voluntary quit” rules.

Exemptions from voluntary quit

The SNAP rules provide key exemptions from these rules2. These exemptions are relevant if DTA thinks you voluntarily quit while you are on SNAP or when you are applying (see what happens if you quit a job shortly before applying for SNAP) or reduced your hours, or if you are on strike (see rules while on strike).

The exemptions include if you:

  • receive TAFDC or EAEDC benefits,
  • are pregnant (in your second or third trimester),
  • are physically or mentally unfit for employment,
  • earn more than $217.50 per week (federal minimum wage x 30),
  • working 30 hours per week (gainfully employed but making less than $217.50/week due to self-employment business expenses or other reasonable circumstances),
  • are a student enrolled in school at least half-time,
  • have applied for or get Unemployment Benefits,
  • care for a child under age 6 or a person with a disability (this person does not need to live with you), or
  • are in a substance abuse treatment program.
The voluntary quit rules while getting SNAP

If you are not exempt and you voluntarily quit a job without good cause after the date you applied for SNAP benefits, you are ineligible for three months, but the rest of your household is still eligible3.

Penalties increase for a second and third quit – to six months of ineligibility and twelve months, respectively. On the first quit, if you are the “head of household,” your whole household is ineligible for three months. On the second and third quit, if you are the head of household your whole household is ineligible for six months.

DTA voluntary quit punishments may be more severe than is allowed under the federal SNAP rules. Contact MLRI at [email protected] if your SNAP is denied or stopped due to voluntary quit.

DTA Online Guide

See Appendix G for links to the DTA’s BEACON 5 Online Guide for this section.


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