The Food Assistance Program (FAP, or Food Stamps) Work Rules

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To be eligible for the Food Assistance Program (FAP, also known as Food Stamps), you must meet certain requirements. Some of those requirements deal with employment. These are known as “work rules.” If you receive both cash and food assistance, you must follow the Family Independence Program (FIP, or cash assistance) work rules. To learn more about FIP work rules, read Family Independence Program (FIP, or Cash Assistance) Work Rules and PATH. If you receive only FAP, you must follow the FAP work rules.

FAP Work Rules

To be or to stay eligible for FAP, you cannot quit your job if you are working 30 hours or more per week. You also may not voluntarily reduce your work hours to fewer than 30 per week without good cause. Read "Good Cause" below to learn more.

If you are not working, or if you are working fewer than 30 hours per week, you cannot refuse a job offer. You also cannot refuse to do employment−related activities that are required to get unemployment benefits. To learn more about these activities, read Getting Unemployment Benefits: Your Rights & Responsibilities.

Special Rules for Adults Without Kids

Special federal FAP time limits and work requirements apply to you if you are an adult and don’t have a disability, and are living in a household without children or a pregnant woman. To learn more, read Food Assistance Program: Special Rules for Adults without Kids

Good Cause for Not Following Work Rules

Sometimes things happen that prevent you from following the work rules. If you have good cause (a good reason for not following the rules), you won’t be punished. If you are getting FAP only, you have good cause if:

  • You recently moved because of another household member’s job or education/ training;

  • You have a job that is on strike or at a lockout site;

  • You quit your job because of unreasonable work conditions, like unreasonable risk to your health and safety;

  • You quit your job because your employer cannot provide steady work, does not pay you on time, or has you doing things that are illegal; or

  • You refused a job offer that is outside your work experience.

Work Rule Deferrals (Exceptions)

Having a work rule deferral means you are excused from the work rules. If you are getting FAP only, you can be excused from work rules if you are:

  • Age 60 or older

  • Personally caring for a child under six years old who is getting FAP as part of your household

  • Attending high school, adult education, or you are in a GED program on at least a half−time basis

  • Injured, ill, or personally caring for a household member with a disability

  • Seven to nine months pregnant

  • Pregnant with medical complications

  • Applying for or receiving unemployment benefits

  • Appealing a denial of unemployment benefits

  • In substance abuse treatment or rehabilitation

If you have questions about FAP work rules, deferrals, or good cause, contact your local Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) office. Your local legal services office may also be able to help you. Use the Guide to Legal Help to find a legal services office in your area.

Penalties for Not Following FAP Work Rules

If you are getting FAP, the first time you violate a work rule, MDHHS will reduce or suspend your benefits for one month or until you follow the rules, whichever is longer. If you violate the rules again, MDHHS will reduce or suspend your benefits for six months or until you follow the rules, whichever is longer.

If you are applying for FAP and you violate the work rules, MDHHS can deny your application.

Appealing an MDHHS Decision

If you don’t agree with a decision MDHHS makes about work rules and your benefits, you have a right to request a hearing. If you request the hearing within 10 days of the date on the negative notice, you can ask to continue getting your benefits until the hearing decision is made. You may need to repay those benefits if MDHHS decides that you were not entitled to them. You might be eligible for retroactive benefits if you request a hearing within 90 days of the negative action and you win. Retroactive benefits mean you could get a payment on your Bridge Card to make up for your benefits that MDHHS did not pay you, but should have.

If you believe MDHHS made a wrong decision about your case, request a hearing. You can use the Do-It-Yourself MDHHS Hearing Request tool to complete your request. Make a copy of the form to keep for your records.

You can mail or drop off your request in person. If you choose to mail your request, you may want to send it by certified mail. Be sure to direct it to the Hearing Coordinator, not your caseworker. If you drop off your request, sign the log book in the office lobby (if available). If you have a camera phone, take a picture of your signature in the log book for your records. You could also ask the person who takes the request to stamp your copy as proof of when you dropped it off.

If you have questions about retroactive benefits, your local legal services office may be able to help you. Use the Guide to Legal Help to find a legal services office near you.