The Fiscal Responsibility Act (the FRA), which was passed by Congress in June 2023, makes significant changes to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) work reporting requirements. Among other changes, the FRA extends mandatory work reporting requirements to older SNAP participants and adds new exemptions to these requirements for veterans, people experiencing homelessness, and some people who were in foster care. Because work reporting requirements put a household’s SNAP assistance in jeopardy due to Employment and Training (E&T) sanctions or time limits, it is important to have all the facts.
How can SNAP participants comply with work reporting rules?
The following activities qualify as meeting SNAP work reporting requirements:
- working at least 80 hours a month
-This can be paid, volunteer, unpaid, or for goods or services other than money. However, participants who earn at least $870 a month are exempt from work reporting requirements.
- participating in federal, state or local work program activities (e.g., SNAP E&T) for at least 80 hours a month or meeting all the rules of a workfare program
- volunteering with a non-profit organization for at least 80 hours a month
- participating for at least 80 hours a month in a combination of work and work program activities
Who is subject to SNAP work reporting requirements?
In general, adults participating in SNAP are subject to work reporting requirements in Florida unless they have a mental or physical problem that affects their ability to work, are pregnant, or are living with minor children.
Who is exempt from SNAP work reporting rules?
SNAP participants do not have to meet work reporting rules (called “exempt”) if they:
- are younger than 18
- are older than 51 as of September 1, 2023
-Under the FRA, age limits for work reporting will be increased in increments over the next year and a half to include older SNAP participants. On October 1, 2023, the age limit will rise to include 51- and 52-year-olds. On October 1, 2024, the age limit will rise to include 53- and 54-year-olds.
- are living with someone under 18
-This can be a participant’s own child, a sibling, or the child of someone the participant lives with.
- are physically or mentally unable to work (see section below for more details)
- are homeless/have no permanent address see section below for more details)
- are a veteran even, if not getting VA benefits (see section below for more details)
- are pregnant
- are already earning $217.50 or more per week before taxes
-federal minimum wage ($7.25) x 30 hours = $217.50; Florida’s minimum wage ($11) is higher than federal minimum wage ($7.25), so some SNAP participants may be working less than 30 hours but still earn $217.59 per week.
- are already employed, or self-employed, for at least 120 hours a month or make $870 a month
- have applied for or receive Unemployment Compensation (called Reemployment Assistance in Florida)
- are under the age of 25 and were in foster care when they turned 18
- participate in a drug addiction or alcohol treatment program
-This does not include Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or Sober Living Houses.
- go to school at least half-time (high school, college, or a training program)
- care for a person with a disability or a child under age six
-The participant does not have to live with the person they are caring for.
- are a refugee participating in an Office of Refugee Resettlement E&T program
-Not all counties in Florida have a Refugee E&T program.
- are a migrant worker with an agreement to begin work within 30 days
- have reasonable and necessary expenses directly related to participation in work activities that cannot be reimbursed by the state because of the cost
Who falls under the exemption “physically or mentally unable to work”?
This includes people who are receiving temporary or permanent disability benefits, including:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Workers Compensation
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits regardless of disability rating
People are also exempt under this category if they:
- are applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- gave birth in the past two months
- are mentally or physically “unfit” as determined by a Department of Children and Families (DCF) eligibility specialist
-If the mental or physical unfitness is “obvious” to DCF, no additional verification of the unfitness is required.
-If the mental or physical unfitness is not “obvious,” the medical problem must be verified with a written or verbal statement from a physician, physician’s assistant, nurse, nurse practitioner, designated representative of the physician’s office, a licensed or certified psychologist, a social worker, or other medical personnel showing that the participant is physically or mentally unfit for employment.
Who falls under the exemption for veterans?
Under the FRA, this exemption is effective beginning September 1, 2023, and — as mentioned above — includes veterans even if they are not getting VA benefits.
The exemption includes anyone who served in the United States Armed Forces and was discharged or released from service, regardless of the conditions of the discharge or release. Examples:
- Marine Corps
- Air Force
- Space Force
- Coast Guard
- National Guard
- People who served in a reserve component of the Armed Forces
Who falls under the exemption for people who are homeless?
Under the FRA, the homelessness exemption is effective beginning September 1, 2023.
The homelessness exemption is broader than chronic homelessness. To be considered “homeless,” the SNAP participant must either have no regular nighttime residence or have a primary nighttime residence that is:
- a supervised shelter intended for temporary accommodations (e.g., a homeless shelter);
- a halfway house or similar institution that provides temporary residence;
- a temporary accommodation for not more than 90 days in the residence of another person; or,
- a place not designed for, or ordinarily used as a, regular sleeping accommodation for people (a car, church, hallway, a bus station, a lobby, or similar places).
What happens if a non-exempt participant does not comply with SNAP work reporting requirements?
SNAP participants who are subject to work reporting requirements may lose their SNAP because of time limits and/or as an E&T sanction if they do not comply with those requirements without a good reason.
Sanctions: People who are required to meet work reporting requirements will lose their SNAP assistance as an E&T sanction if they fail to comply. This means that a participants’ SNAP assistance — and, in many cases, the SNAP assistance of everyone in the household — will be cut off, even if they have not exhausted their time limit. Sanctions range from a minimum of one to six months.
Time limits: SNAP participants who are subject to work reporting requirements can only get three full months of SNAP in a 36-month period — unless they report that they are working or participating in qualifying work activities for at least 80 hours a month. Florida uses a “fixed clock” to measure and track the 36 months. This means that the state sets its clock on one date state-wide, which gives all participants subject to work reporting the same start and end date. In Florida the current 36-month period runs from January 1,2022 until December 31, 2024. New 36-month periods reset every third year on January 1 and end three years later on December 31.
What if a SNAP participant has a good reason for not meeting work reporting requirements?
In many cases, SNAP participants who have a good reason (called “good cause”) for not meeting their work reporting requirements should be excused. Good cause means reasons that are beyond the participant’s control, such as illness, a household emergency, transportation problems, discrimination or harassment at work, or not getting paid on time.
To be excused from work reporting requirements for good cause, the participant must have at least completed orientation and assessment, which may be done online or in person. DCF is responsible for making decisions about good cause. To make a good cause determination, DCF considers all relevant facts and circumstances.
DCF suggests that people report their exemption or good cause reason in their My ACCESS Account by selecting “Report a Change,” or by contacting the Customer Call Center at 850-300-4323. It is a good idea to do both to ensure that DCF sees and processes the report.
How do participants get their SNAP back after they use up their time limits or get an E&T sanction?
Participants who lost SNAP in the past because of time limits can reapply for SNAP again when the clock resets.
People who lost their SNAP because of an E&T sanction can get their SNAP back if they reapply so long as they serve out a minimum sanction period and begin to comply with work requirements.
SNAP participants who become newly exempt from work reporting requirements can have their benefits reinstated even though they were sanctioned or time limited. These participants will likely need to reapply.
In addition, SNAP participants who disagree with the decision that they are subject to work reporting --or whose benefits are sanctioned and/or time limited because of work reporting — can file an appeal (also called “request a fair hearing”). Participants who wish to appeal should carefully read all notices that they get about work reporting to determine the deadline for filing their appeal. People who are already receiving benefits should file their appeal by the end of the last day of the month prior to the effective date of the action if they want their benefits continued during the appeal. Otherwise, SNAP participants have 90 days from DCF’s written notice to ask for a fair hearing.
SNAP participants can represent themselves at a fair hearing or get anyone they want to represent them, including friends or family members. Still, it is a good idea to try to get a lawyer or paralegal. To find a local legal aid or legal services office that may be able to help for free, go to https://www.floridalawhelp.org/.
Participants should contact DCF as soon as possible if they disagree with any decision that the Department makes related to work reporting. Participants can go in person to a DCF office or call DCF’s Customer Call Center at (850) 300-4323 (Florida Relay 711 or TTY 1-800-955-8771) from 7:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., Monday-Friday.
How does someone know if they are subject to work reporting requirements?
All SNAP participants will be screened by DCF staff during their eligibility interview to determine if they are subject to work reporting requirements before they are referred to DEO. People who are required to comply with work reporting rules will get a letter from their local workforce development board (LWDB or CareerSource) called an Employment and Training Referral (ETR). The ETR letter, which used to be called a Notice of Mandatory Participation (NOMP), contains instructions for completing online orientation and assessment. ETRs are sent by regular mail through the United States Postal Service, even to participants who normally receive SNAP notices electronically. SNAP households should double check that DCF has their correct mailing address on file through their MyACCESSAccount to make sure they do not miss getting the ETR.
DCF is also supposed to notify participants verbally that they are subject to work reporting requirements during screening as well as in a written consolidated notice about work rules. In addition, DCF should also tell participants about their work reporting responsibilities in the Notice of Adverse Action (NOAA) (also called the Notice of Case Action (NOCA)) that it provides to SNAP applicants informing them of decisions that adversely affect them. FNS says that the NOAA must tell people about the criteria for exemptions, how to meet the work requirement and the steps for regaining eligibility, among other things. The NOAA will also tell participants about their appeal rights, including when and how to request a fair hearing.
Who decides which SNAP participants are required to work report in Florida?
DCF decides who is subject to SNAP work reporting requirements in Florida and refers those participants to the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). DEO then assesses all participants and assigns them to at least one SNAP Employment and Training (SNAP E&T) activity.
DCF must screen for and apply new exemptions for people experiencing homelessness, veterans, and foster care children no later than September 1, 2023. During that process, the U.S Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) says that all participates should be given a meaningful opportunity to provide information about their status and to understand what the work reporting requirements mean to their potential eligibility.
In many cases, a participant’s statement that they meet an exemption does not have to be verified through additional paperwork or by a third party. However, if DCF determines that the information is questionable, the participant may be asked to provide verification.
What else should participants know?
Bonus months: Normally, people who do not meet the work reporting requirements can only get SNAP for 3 months in a 36-month period. However, some people who have not been able to meet work reporting rules may be able to get a second three months of benefits — called “bonus months” — on top of their first 3 months. People who have lost their benefits due to the time limit but have started to comply again may be eligible for a second three-month period during the 36 months if they fail to meet the work reporting requirements again. This second three-month period is extra time that participants are allowed to receive benefits within a 36-month period even if they are not currently meeting the work requirement. The second three month “bonus” period is consecutive.
Losing exemption status: Some SNAP participants lose their work exemption status during their certification period. For example, someone may recover from a physical ailment that no longer prevents them from working. If that happens, FNS says that states may not take action to force work reporting unless it is “clear” that the participant does not meet another exemption. For it to be “clear,” FNS suggests that the state must screen the participants for all other exemptions before subjecting them to work reporting requirements.
Role of community partners: FNS says that state agencies should work with external organizations — such as outreach and community partners and advocacy groups — in an information campaign to get the word out about FRA’s new exemptions to affected people. FNS says that these groups are crucial to increasing awareness and tells state agencies that their help will assist in streamlining implementation.
For more information and updates, visit: https://myflfamilies.com/services/public-assistance/abawd
 Federal law calls people subject to work reporting in the SNAP program “able bodied adults without dependents,” or ABAWDs for short.