Work Requirement

NOTE:  The work requirement for ABAWDs is currently waived due to the Public Health Emergency. FoodShare Members will be notified by the IM agency when the requirement is reinstated. 

Some FoodShare members must meet a work requirement to maintain FoodShare eligibility.  This work requirement is part of the ABAWD policy. ABAWD stands for "Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents".  It is a federally-mandated policy within the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) or FoodShare program.  The following is a brief summary of the ABAWD policies.  It is not a comprehensive description.  For specific questions on ABAWD policy, please contact an eligibility worker through your Income Maintenance Consortium.


The ABAWD policy is part of the FoodShare program and applies to some FoodShare recipients. It was first enacted with the passage of the PRWORA legislation in 1996. As a national program, states are required to apply time-limited benefit policies for ABAWDs.  But many states, including Wisconsin, were able to receive a waiver from applying the ABAWD rules because of high unemployment.


Wisconsin applied the ABAWD policies from 1998 - 2002.  Wisconsin received a waiver beginning in 2002 due to our unemployment rate. This waiver ended for Wisconsin and the policy was re-implemented state-wide effective 04/01/15.

ABAWD Definition

An ABAWD is a FoodShare member who meets all of the following conditions:


  • Is between 18 – 49 years old; and
  • Is able to work; and
  • Is not residing in a FoodShare household with a child under age 18 (child must be a member of the Food Unit even if the child is not eligible for FS); and
  • Is not pregnant


ABAWD Time Limited Benefits

A FoodShare member who is subject to the work requirement under the ABAWD policy (and does not have an exemption), can continue to receive FoodShare benefits, but is limited to only receiving benefits for three months without meeting the work participation requirement during a 36-month period.


If a member subject to the work requirement meets the work requirement for a month, that month does not count towards the three month limit.  When a member subject to the work requirement does not meet the work requirement for a month, one of the three time-limited benefit months is recorded.  Once three months have been recorded, the ABAWD-subject member loses FoodShare eligibility until:

  • They meet the work requirement; or
  • They gain an exemption; or
  • They qualify for a "grace-period"; or
  • They no longer are classified as an ABAWD; or
  • The 36-month period expires and a new period starts

ABAWD Exemption Reasons

Many recipients who meet the ABAWD definition can be exempt from the work requirement.  The following are the allowable exemptions for the ABAWD work requirement:


*  Determined unfit for employment, which includes someone who is:

  • Receiving temporary or permanent disability benefits from the government or a private source; or
  • Mentally or physically unable to work, as determined by the IM agency;  -or-
  • Verified as unable to work by a statement from a health care professional or a social worker.

*  Receiving Unemployment Compensation (UC) or has applied for UC and is complying with UC work requirements;

*  Regularly participating in an alcohol or other drug addiction (AODA) treatment or rehabilitation program;

*  A student of higher education who is otherwise eligible for FoodShare;

*  A high school student 18 years of age or older, attending high school at least half-time;

*  Primary caregiver of a dependent child under age 6 or an incapacitated person; or

*  Meeting the ABAWD work requirement outside of FSET through work and/or other allowable work program participation.


Only a FoodShare eligibility worker can determine and approve an exemption.  If you believe you meet one of the exemptions reasons listed, you can call your IM Consortium's Call Center, or report a change through ACCESS (, mail or fax.

Capital IM: 1-888-794-5556

(Adams County)


IM Central: 1-888-445-1621

(Langlade, Marathon, Oneida, Portage counties)


Northern IM: 1-888-794-5722

(Forest, Lincoln, Vilas, Wood counties)


We can help you to report and verify your exemption claim but the FSET program cannot determine or approve an exemption for you.

Even if you meet an exemption, you can still volunteer to receive services in the FSET program.

ABAWD Work Requirements

If your eligibility worker has determined you meet the ABAWD definition and that you do not have an exemption, you need to meet the work requirement to remain eligible for FoodShare. You can meet your monthly work requirements in one of three ways (see below) or through a combination of the first two ways.


You can enroll in the FSET program as one way to meet your work requirements and maintain your FoodShare eligibility.  If you enroll and participate in the FSET program, FSET can provide assistance with job search, training options as well as support services including gas cards, bus passes, and work-related clothing.

Option 1 

Option 2

Option 3 

Complete 80 hours Work/Employment a Month

Work is defined as:

  • In exchange for money; or 
  • In exchange for other goods or services (such as food, rent); or

  • Via self-employment; or
  • Unpaid work experience or community service

You must provide verification to a FoodShare eligibility worker that you are completing the 80 hours through this option.


Verification can include paystubs, employer verification, or self-employment report forms. 


If you are working less than 80 hours, you can enroll in a work program (option 2) to complete the remaining hours for each month.  




Participate 80 Hours a Month in a Work Program

Allowable work programs include:

  • Children First
  • FSET
  • Refugee Cash Assistance
  • Refugee Employment and Training
  • Wisconsin Works (W-2)
  • Workforce Investment Act / Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIA/WIOA)
  • Programs under Section 236 of the Trade Act

If you participate in a program other than FSET for 80 or more hours a month, you must verify your participation with a FoodShare eligibility worker.


You can do a combination of work and work program activities to meet your ABAWD work requirement.





Participate in a Workfare Assignment

In FSET, you can complete a voluntary workfare assignment at a public agency or a private non-profit agency to meet your ABAWD work requirement.


Your monthly participation in workfare is determined by dividing your monthly FoodShare amount by minimum wage.


Example: If you receive $194 in FoodShare, your monthly Workfare hours are 27 ($194/$7.25) or about 7 hours per week. 


If you chose the Workfare option, you only need to complete the workfare hours instead of the full 80 hours each month.


You can volunteer for additional hours in your workfare assignment or in any other activities in FSET, but only the Workfare hours would need to be completed to meet the work requirement for FoodShare.  

Address: Wood County Human Services - River Block

111 W. Jackson St., 2nd Floor, Wisconsin Rapids WI 54495  

Phone: +1 (715) 421-8608 8


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software