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FoodShare Employment and Training Work Requirement Partners FAQ

Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about meeting the FoodShare work requirement for adults ages 18 to 49 with no minor children in the home.


As part of the FoodShare application and renewal processes, applicants and members must complete an interview. During this interview, the income maintenance (IM) agency will inform the applicant or member which household members may be affected by the policy and how those members can either meet the work requirement or verify any applicable exemption.

Households that have a FoodShare renewal will be sent a letter one month prior to their renewal. The letter will list which household members may have to meet the work requirement to qualify to continue to be eligible for FoodShare. Beginning April 1, 2015, new FoodShare applicants will find out during the application process if the time limit applies to them and they need to meet the work requirement.

As established under federal regulations 7 CFR 273.7 and 7 CFR 273.24, time-limited FoodShare benefits are three months of benefits that a member may get during a 36-month period while he or she is not meeting the work requirement or meeting an exemption from the work requirement. If a member receives these three months of benefits and does not meet the work requirement for FoodShare, his or her benefits may end. The member will be unable to get additional FoodShare benefits unless he or she meets the work requirement, meets an exemption, or the 36-month (3-year) period ends.

If a member is not meeting the work requirement and does not meet an exemption, the member’s time-limited FoodShare benefits will start on the first day of the first full month of FoodShare benefits when the new policy rules are applied to his or her case.

The three months of time-limited FoodShare benefits do not have to be used consecutively. For example, a member can use one month of time-limited FoodShare benefits in the 36-month period and then start meeting the work requirement or meet an exemption. The other two months of time-limited benefits will be saved for later, in case the member stops meeting the work requirement or no longer meets an exemption. The member can use the two remaining time-limited benefit months any time during the 36-month period.

For the purpose of meeting the work requirement, work can be employment, self-employment, volunteer work, and in-kind work. It can also refer to one of the allowable work programs, as these may be used in combination with employment to meet the work requirement. Proof may be required to verify work.

If a member was subject to the work requirement and did not meet it for 3 months in a 36-month period, the member will no longer be able to receive FoodShare benefits for the remainder of that 36-month period unless he or she begins meeting the work requirement or meets an exemption.

Allowable work programs for meeting the work requirement include:

  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Work Programs, including Wisconsin Works (W-2) and Children First
  • Refugee Employment and Training
  • Workforce Investment Act (WIA) programs
  • Refugee Cash Assistance programs
  • Programs under section 236 of the Trade Act
  • FoodShare Employment and Training (FSET) program
  • Workfare programs operated by other city, county or town governments

Yes. FSET is still a voluntary program. Anyone age 16 or over who is eligible for FoodShare in Wisconsin can participate in FSET. Members participating in FSET voluntarily (those who do not need to meet the work requirement) must participate in FSET activities at least 12 hours per month.

Members should work with their IM agency to determine the appropriate source of verification for monthly self-employment hours for meeting the work requirement or any exemption.

Providing proof of an exemption follows current FoodShare reporting and verification requirements. New applicants have 30 days from the date the verification checklist (VCL) is sent, or the date of application, whichever is later, to submit proof of an exemption. Members who are renewing their benefits have 10 days from the date the verification checklist (VCL) is sent to provide proof of an exemption. If proof is submitted timely, the exemption will be effective the first of the month in which it was reported.

The proof is valid for as long as the member has the exemption or until the member’s annual renewal, at which point the member will need to submit proof of the exemption again.

Members should work with their IM agency to determine appropriate sources of proof. Some common sources of proof (and who can provide that proof) include:

Exemption Examples of Allowable Verification
Proof of an Exemption from the Work Requirement
Primary caregiver for a person who cannot care for himself or herself
  • Statement from the parent or legal guardian
  • Statement or letter from a certified health care provider
  • Statement from incapacitated individual, if applicable
  • Custody agreement
Physically or mentally unable to work
  • Statement or letter from a certified health care provider
  • Approval letter from the Disability Determination Bureau or Social Security Administration (for disability)
Receiving or have applied for unemployment insurance Unemployment compensation award letter
Taking part in an alcohol or other drug abuse (AODA) program Statement from an AODA counselor
Enrolled in an institution of higher learning at least half-time
  • A copy of the most recent report card
  • A copy of the current school schedule
  • A statement from a school authority
High school student age 18 or older, attending high school at least half-time
  • A copy of the most recent report card
  • A copy of the current school schedule
  • A statement from a school authority

In some circumstances, a member may meet an exemption if he or she has a physical condition that prevents him or her from meeting the work requirement. The member may need to provide proof of being unable to meet the work requirement and should communicate with the IM agency to determine the appropriate source of verification. The member can still choose to participate in FSET voluntarily.

High school students who are age 18 or older and attending high school at least half-time are exempt from the work requirement.

Members can find FSET service provider contact information here. If someone in a member’s household needs to meet the work requirement, the member will receive a letter from the FSET service provider in his or her region, which will include the FSET service provider’s contact information.

If both members are subject to the work requirement, they would both receive benefits for 3 months of the 36-month period of time; however, once the 3 months of time-limited benefits have lapsed, the allotment would no longer include benefits for the member who did not meet the work requirement.

A member can wait until renewal to report a change in his or her exemption. However, as part of the new work requirement, if a member loses his or her job, or the member’s hours fall below 80 per month, the member should report the change within 10 days.

Last revised June 16, 2022