Food Stamps Work Requirements for ABAWDs

Households must meet SNAP work requirements in order to qualify for food stamps under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), unless they are exempt from doing so.

For instance, capable adults must work or participate in training or education activities for a designated amount of time each month, or they will only qualify for limited SNAP benefits. Known as the 3 month rule, capable adults who do not meet these work or education requirements may only obtain SNAP benefits for a limited amount of time.

Moreover, all able bodied adults without dependents must meet these requirements if they wish to obtain SNAP benefits for an extended period of time. For instance, these rules pertain to capable adults without disabilities or dependents. However, certain beneficiaries are exempt from meeting these rules, including seniors, pregnant women and children. To learn more about these work requirements, review the information below.

Who qualifies as an able bodied adult without dependents?

Also known as ABAWDs, able-bodied adults refer to SNAP beneficiaries who are between the ages of 18 and 49, capable of working, who do not care for children or other dependent household members. However, the following types of beneficiaries do not qualify as able-bodied adults, and are therefore exempt from meeting work requirements:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children who are younger than 18 years of age
  • Adults who are at least 50 years of age
  • Claimants who care for a dependent child or an incapacitated member of their household
  • Beneficiaries with physical or mental limitations that prevent them from working
  • Claimants who live in a state that waives these work requirements
  • SNAP recipients who work and already meet these requirements

Related Article: Food Stamps Eligibility Guidelines

Note: To determine whether you are an ABAWD, contact your caseworker. Your caseworker will help you to determine whether you need to meet these work requirements, or whether you are exempt (or excused) from doing so.

What are the work requirements for SNAP?

All ABAWDs must meet several work, training or education requirements in order to qualify for more than three months of SNAP benefits. If beneficiaries do not meet these requirements and they live in a state that follows these rules, they may only obtain SNAP benefits for three months within a three-year period (or 36 months). Known as the 3-month limit, SNAP recipients will lose their benefits after three months unless they meet these work, education or training requirements. For assistance in finding a program that complies with these requirements, claimants may contact their caseworker.

To comply with these work requirements for food stamps, beneficiaries must participate in any of the following activities:

  • Able-bodied adults must work at least 80 hours per month (20 hours per week) OR
  • Able-bodied adults must participate in at least 80 hours of education or training activities per month OR
  • Able-bodied adults must comply with a qualifying workfare program or a SNAP Employment and Training Program (E&T)

Currently, around 43 percent of all SNAP beneficiaries reside in a working household. If households are not exempt from meeting these requirements, they will lose their SNAP benefits at the end of the time limit unless they obtain suitable employment, training or education that complies with these rules. If beneficiaries lose their SNAP benefits and cannot afford to purchase food for their families, they may contact their local food bank for assistance.

Note: If able bodied adults without dependents choose to participate in an unpaid workfare program, the minimum number of hours they must work each month will vary depending on their specific SNAP benefit amount.

What is a SNAP ABAWD waiver?

Some states waive these ABAWD SNAP rules during periods of high unemployment or when few jobs are available to able-bodied adults. States may waive these time limits in all or part of the state when unemployment rates exceed 10 percent or when other conditions are met. In most cases, these waivers are valid for up to 12 months at a time. However, states may stop the waiver at any time.

For instance, states may qualify for SNAP ABAWD waivers if the following is true:

  • The state unemployment rate exceeds 10 percent in a 12- or three-month period
  • The state average 24-month unemployment rate was 20 percent higher than that of the national average
  • The state meets the requirements of extending its unemployment benefits
  • The Department of Labor designates the state as a Labor Surplus Area (LSA)

However, able-bodied adults must continue to meet general work requirements for participation in the SNAP program, even if they live in a state with an approved waiver period.

Currently, states with approved ABAWD SNAP waivers include Alaska, the District of Columbia, Louisiana, Nevada and New Mexico. Approved U.S. territories include Guam and the Virgin Islands. Currently, these waivers apply to the entire state or territory.

Moreover, states with partial waivers for the 3 month rule include the following: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. However, these waivers only apply to certain parts of each state.

How many able bodied adults without dependents receive SNAP benefits?

Currently, ABAWDs account for around 8.8 percent of all SNAP participants in the U.S., or 3.8 million beneficiaries. These non-disabled adults are beneficiaries who are between 18 and 49 years of age and reside in households without dependent children. About 46 percent of able-bodied beneficiaries are female, with 40 percent of them ranging between 36 and 49 years of age. About 33 percent of these SNAP beneficiaries are between 18 and 25 years of age, and 27 percent are between the ages of 26 and 35.

While these able-bodied adults without dependents earn an average household income of $367 per month, around 26 percent of them work and earn an average monthly salary of $810. Of those who work at least 20 hours per week, the average monthly salary is around $1,000. Moreover, most ABAWD SNAP beneficiaries receive an average monthly benefit amount of $163 per household member. This amount for non-disabled adults is slightly higher than the average monthly SNAP benefit of $123 per person. However, only about 2 percent of these able-bodied adults receive SNAP benefits for more than eight years.

Related Article: Food Stamps Fraud

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