Michigan officials say able-bodied adults without dependents in four counties must meet work requirements to continue receiving food assistance after Jan. 1, 2017.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday it's notifying about 14,000 people in Kent, Oakland, Ottawa and Washtenaw counties this week of the change.

Michigan began receiving a waiver from the requirements in 2002 because of to high unemployment. The significant reduction in the state’s jobless rate over the last several years means the state is no longer eligible. According to the MDHHS, there were more than 1 million cases for the Food Assistance Program statewide.

The state's unemployment rate has steadily decreased from about 14 percent in 2009 to 4.6 percent reported in September 2016.

The four counties are being phased out first because of their lower unemployment rates. MDHHS expects the waiver to be phased out statewide by October 2018 or sooner.

Recipients ages 18-49 without disabilities that prevent them from working must spend an average of 20 hours per week each month in unsubsidized employment, job training, or volunteering at a nonprofit.

“MDHHS and our partners at the Michigan Talent Investment Agency and Michigan Works! Agencies are prepared to assist people affected by these reinstated requirements so they can continue on their journey toward self-sufficiency," said MDHHS Director Nick Lyon.

Able-bodied adults without dependents can call their MDHHS case specialist with questions or visit www.michigan.gov/FoodAssistance for more information on the work requirements, exemptions and other information.