ABAWD Work Rules Participation


To comply with the ABAWD Work Program Requirement, non-exempt able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) between the ages of 18 and 49 must:


Meeting by Working

A client is considered to be meeting the ABAWD Work Rules (WR) by working when the total number of hours that s/he worked at one or more unsubsidized paid or unpaid job(s) total at least 20 hours per week, averaged monthly (80 hours per month).

Working means:

To ensure that a client’s work hours are accurately accounted for, when entering an earned income record, you must enter the actual hours worked during each pay period on the Earnings tab. See Entering Earned Income Data - Earnings Tab.



Income from roomers and boarders of a commercial boarding house is considered self-employment income for SNAP purposes.  Income derived from rental property is considered earned income only if the client is actively engaged in the management of the property at least an average of 20 hours a week.


Hours worked must be verified at application and recertification.  Between certifications, an ABAWD client is only obligated to report if his/her work hours fall below 20 hours per week/80 hours per month or if the income increases above the program limit. 



  • If there is an elderly and/or disabled household member in the SNAP case, there is no gross income limit. These households are only required to report if a household member begins working less than 20 hours per week or 80 hours averaged monthly.

  • If a client claims that s/he is meeting the ABAWD Work Rules by working at least 20 hours per week, averaged monthly, you must check the existing verifications in BEACON to verify hours worked.  If there are no verifications to confirm that a client is meeting the requirement, send an optional VC-1.  For more, see Entering Hours When Not Available.



Individuals who are subject to the WR are strongly encouraged, but not required, to report if they are involved with training, volunteer work, or if they begin working 20 hours per week or an average of 80 hours per month. This could help the ABAWD household member continue receiving SNAP benefits.

Individuals who do not report these changes may be subject to retroactive strikes unless good cause exists.  For more information, please see ABAWD Work Rules Strikes.

You must not submit Overpayment Referrals for individuals who do not report these changes unless the unreported income would have resulted in SNAP ineligibility because it puts the household income above the applicable income limit.


In some circumstances, a client’s earned income verification may not include the number of hours worked. The number of hours worked may be calculated provided the earned income verification includes the client’s hourly rate. For more, see Entering Hours When Not Available.


Meeting by Participating in a Qualifying Employment and Training (E&T) Program

A client is considered to be meeting the ABAWD WR when s/he is enrolled in and participating in qualifying E&T activity 20 hours per week/80 hours per month.  Qualifying E&T activity can include basic education, vocational or technical training, and/or on-the-job training.  Job search and job readiness activities are allowed, but, unless part of a Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program or a program under section 236 of the Trade Act of 1974, must be less than half of the required hours in a qualifying E&T component.



A SNAP client who participates in the Work Participant Program (WPP) for 20 hours a week is considered to be meeting the ABAWD WR.  WPP is offered to TAFDC and SNAP clients through the statewide network of MassHire Career Centers.


Enrollment in a qualifying E&T activity must be verified and entered in BEACON by a Central Office SNAP Path to Work Specialist.  To show that client is enrolled and/or participating in a qualifying E&T activity, the Specialist will check the Qualifying Component checkbox on the ESP Referral Disposition and ESP Disposition pages.  Once a Central Office SNAP Path to Work Specialist records the fact that a client is participating in a qualifying E&T program, compliance will be automatically credited between the component start and end dates.

A client does not have to be enrolled in an E&T program through DTA’s SNAP Path to Work Program to comply with the ABAWD Work Rules.  When a client reports that s/he is participating in an E&T program, if the program information has not already been entered on the ESP Activity Disposition page on BEACON, provide him/her with the ABAWD Training Program Information Request form.

This form can be printed via:


Central Office SNAP Path to Work Specialists will look for and address scanned documents indexed as ABAWD Training Program Information Requests, using the ABAWD Document Search page.  Based on the information completed by Education/Training program staff, the Specialist will determine whether or not the client is exempt from or meeting the ABAWD WR via program participation and update BEACON accordingly.



See SNAP Path to Work Program for information about SNAP E&T program referrals.


Meeting by Volunteering

A client is considered to be meeting the ABAWD WR by volunteering when s/he is performing community service work at a


Placement cannot be in the office of an individual candidate's campaign for public office.


The number of volunteer hours that a client must volunteer each month is determined by dividing the household’s monthly SNAP allotment by the state minimum wage.  If the SNAP household contains more than one person, this number is further divided by the number of SNAP clients in the household to get the number of hours that an individual household member must volunteer.

For example: If a household, with a monthly SNAP allotment of $357, contains two clients who are subject to the ABAWD WR:



A client living in a household that is active at $0 or whose portion of the monthly SNAP allotment is less than $13, will not be required to participate in community service.  The client will be considered to be meeting the ABAWD WR and will not receive the ABAWD WP requirement form unless the benefit amount increases to more than $13.


A Community Service Program participant may:

A client can request approval for a self-arranged volunteer site or a referral to an approved Community Service site by calling the SNAP Path to Work Line at (888) 483-0255.

Each Community Service Program participant must comply with the following Community Service Program activities:


Clients who are not exempt from the ABAWD Work Rules and are not complying by working or participating in a qualifying E&T component will be sent a BEACON generated ABAWD Work Program Participation Report on the Monday before the last Saturday of each month.  This form is due on the 5th of the following month, or the next business day if the 5th falls on a weekend or holiday.

The ABAWD Work Program Participation Report will indicate the number of community service hours required based on the SNAP allotment at the time the notice is generated. If the allotment changes after the participation report is issued, the client will meet the requirement if they complete the number of hours indicated on the BEACON generated report or the number of hours required based on the benefit for the participation month, even if these hours are less than what was originally indicated on the BEACON-generated report.



When a client requests an ABAWD Work Program Participation Report to verify volunteer hours, you must reprint the BEACON generated version for the applicable participation month and give it to him/her.  If the BEACON-generated version has not yet been issued, you must complete the DTA staff sections of the fillable version (available on Online Forms) and give this version of the form to the client.



ABAWD Work Program – Policy and Procedures



  Last Update:  February 19, 2020