The term “ABAWD” refers to Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents. It is a classification used in the context of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a federal assistance program in the United States. ABAWDs are individuals between the ages of 18 and 50 (this age limit has been increased to 54 under the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023), who are able to work and do not have dependents.
As per SNAP rules, ABAWDs can receive benefits for only three months in any 36-month period unless they meet certain work requirements or are otherwise exempt from the time limit. These work requirements include working at least 80 hours a month, which can be for pay, for goods or services, unpaid, or as a volunteer.
There are several exemptions from the ABAWD work requirements.
For instance, individuals are excused from the general work requirements if they are already working at least 30 hours a week, meeting work requirements for another program (TANF or unemployment compensation), participating regularly in an alcohol or drug treatment program, or studying in school or a training program at least half-time. However, college students are subject to other eligibility rules.
Moreover, under the recently enacted Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, new exceptions have been added for veterans, homeless individuals, and individuals who are 24 years of age or younger and were in foster care on their 18th birthday.
The Food and Nutrition Act also allows states to request FNS to temporarily waive the ABAWD time limit for areas that have an unemployment rate of over 10 percent or do not have a sufficient number of jobs.
However, it’s worth noting that various studies have found that reinstating the ABAWD time limit has significantly reduced SNAP participation but has not improved employment or annual earnings
To meet the ABAWD work requirement, an individual must:
- Participate in a work program for at least 80 hours a month. A work program could be SNAP Employment and Training or another federal, state, or local work program.
- Participate in a combination of work and work program hours for a total of at least 80 hours a month.
- Participate in workfare for the number of hours assigned each month. The number of hours will depend on the amount of the individual’s SNAP benefit.
If an individual fails to meet the ABAWD work requirements, they may lose their benefits after 3 months. To regain SNAP benefits, they must meet the ABAWD work requirement for a 30-day period or become excused. Otherwise, they would have to wait until the end of a 3-year period, when they’ll get another 3 months under the time limit.
There are exceptions to these work requirements. For example, an individual is excused from the ABAWD work requirement and time limit if they are:
- Already working at least 30 hours a week (or earning wages at least equal to the federal minimum wage multiplied by 30 hours).
- Meeting work requirements for another program (TANF or unemployment compensation).
- Participating regularly in an alcohol or drug treatment program.
- Studying in school or a training program at least half-time.
Furthermore, states have the option to waive the ABAWD time limit for areas with an unemployment rate over 10 percent or a lack of sufficient jobs. Even if the time limit is waived, ABAWDs are still subject to the general work requirements.
It’s important to note that starting Oct. 1, 2023, these rules apply to people ages 18-52