Basic Food Work Requirements - Work Registration

Revised: September 1st, 2023


WAC 388-444-0005 Am I required to work or look for work in order to be eligible for Basic Food?


Clarifying Information - WAC 388-444-0005

Exempt clients (per WAC 388-444-0010) are not required to register for work, so they are not work registrants.

Non-exempt clients are people who receive Basic Food and must be registered for work. They are considered work registrants, and further divided into two groups:

Work Registrants 

  • Clients age 16 through 59 who do not meet an exemption listed in WAC 388-444-0010 must register for work and meet Work Registration requirements.
  • There are no time limits for non-ABAWD work registrants.
  • Participation in Employment & Training is voluntary in Washington State.
  • Work registrants who voluntarily quit a job or reduce their work hours below 30 hours a week without good cause will face a penalty
  • DSHS registers the clients for work by completing the Work Registration page in ACES/3G.


 Work Registrants Who are ABAWDs

  • Able Bodied Adult Without Dependents (ABAWD) are a subset of Work Registrants who must meet further requirements in order to remain eligible for benefits.
  • Able-bodied adults ages 18 through 50 beginning September 1, 2023 (and 52 beginning October 1st, 2023), without dependents, and without a physical or mental disability preventing them from working, and who live in an non-waived area, are required to participate in specific activities outlined in the ABAWD WACs to stay eligible for Basic Food and avoid the three month time limit.    
  • ABAWD clients are referred to options to meet their participation requirements.

Worker Responsibilities - WAC 388-444-0005

  1. During application, add a person or eligibility review, or another change that impacts work registration, determine if members of the Basic Food household are non-exempt work registrants or exempt.
  2. For any exempt work registrants, code the most appropriate exemption per current procedure.
  3. For any non-exempt work registrant, determine if the client(s) is considered ABAWD.
  4. If a WorkFirst household is sanctioned, determine whether or not the sanctioned persons are exempt from Basic Food work requirements.  Disqualify non-participating members of the TANF household from receiving Basic Food unless they are exempt under WAC 388-444-0010.
  5.  Read the Work Registration Script(s), referring to any household members in the assistance unit that are work registrants. Perform any necessary referrals to employment and training opportunities. 
  6. Ensure the Consolidated Work Registration Notice populates in the letters for the household.