SNAP - ABAWDs

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
for the
Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs)

For most people there is no time limit for how long they can receive SNAP benefits. Federal rules, however, do limit SNAP benefits to 3 months in a 36-month period for people age 18 through 49 who are able to work and have no dependents. They are known as Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWDs).

Since 1996, SNAP rules have held ABAWDs to this time limit. Each year, however, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reviews the availability of employment in a city or town and compares it against the number of eligible workers in that city or town, and they may allow a community to be waived from the time limit because they are a labor surplus area.

For many years, the unemployment rate in RI exempted residents of every city and town from the time limit. As of September 1, 2018, ABAWDs in the following towns may be subject to a three-month time limit:

Barrington Little Compton
Cumberland Narragansett
Exeter Newport
Glocester North Kingstown
Jamestown North Smithfield
Lincoln Richmond
  Warwick

See below for answers to common ABAWD questions and resources for ABAWDs seeking to maintain benefits beyond 3 months.

ABAWD Questions and Resources

Who is an ABAWD?

    1. SNAP recipients age 18-49, and
    1. who are able to work
    1. have no dependents

Who is not an ABAWD?

    1. SNAP recipients under age 18 or over age 49, or
    1. Have dependents (children under age 18) in their SNAP household
    1. Individuals exempt from work registration, including persons:
        ◾With disability (temporary or permanent); or
        ◾Who are caretakers of a child age 6 or younger, or an incapacitated person of any age; or
        ◾Participating in RI Works; or
        ◾Receiving or having applied for Unemployment Insurance; or
        ◾Participating in a drug or alcohol treatment program; or
        ◾Employed at least 30 hours a week; or
        ◾Enrolled in an institute of higher education at least half time

Do non-ABAWDs have a time limit for how long they can receive SNAP benefits?

    No. If a SNAP recipient is not an ABAWD, they do not have a time limit. Non-ABAWDs typically receive SNAP for 12 or 24 months at a time and can maintain SNAP benefits if they complete necessary interim and recertification requirements and remain eligible for SNAP.

Are ABAWDs always limited to 3 months of benefits in a 36 month period?

    No. An ABAWD may be able to continue to receive benefits beyond 36 months if they are meeting ABAWD work requirements or they live an a waived community.

        ABAWD work requirements:
          ◾ Working, on average, 80 hours a month. Work may be paid, unpaid (volunteering), or in-kind (working in exchange for goods or services)
          ◾ Participating, 20 hours a week in a SNAP Employment and Training program, a Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) work program, a program under section 236 of the Trade Act of 1974
          ◾ Participating 20 hours a week through a combination of the above, eg. 15 hours of paid work and 5 hours of WIOA work program.
        Waived cities and towns (September 1, 2018-August 31, 2019)
          ◾Bristol, Burrillville, Central Falls, Charlestown, Coventry, Cranston, East Greenwich, East Providence, Foster, Hopkinton, Johnston, Middletown, New Shoreham, North Providence, Pawtucket, Portsmouth, Providence, Scituate, Smithfield, South Kingstown, Tiverton, Warren, West Greenwich, West Warwick, Westerly, Woonsocket

I am going to lose benefits after three months, is there anything I can do to keep benefits?

    Yes. If you are identified as an ABAWD, you may maintain benefits after three months by reporting to us that you are meeting the ABAWD work requirements or that you are unfit for work.

        Reporting ABAWD work requirements
          ◾ If you start working, send DHS copies of your pay stubs or a note from your employer indicting the number of hours you are working weekly/monthly.
          ◾If you are volunteering or working in-kind, send DHS a note from the agency or person you are working for indicating the number of hours you are working unpaid or in-kind.
          ◾If you are enrolled in a SNAP E and T program, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) work program, or a program of section 236 of the Trade Act of 1974, send DHS documentation from the program provider of the number of hours you are participating in that program.
          ◾If you are doing more than one of the above, send all documentation.
        Reporting Unfit for Work
          ◾If you think there is a reason why you are unable to work, please let us know. There are circumstances when someone may be temporarily “unfit for work” and therefore not time limited.

Who can help connect me to a work activity or identify me as unfit for work?

    1. There are people at DHS and in the community who can help you with this process.
    1. You may contact DHS to discuss work activities and unfit for work.
    1. If you are interested in SNAP Employment and Training you can learn more at Snap E and T.
    1. We’ve engaged many community partners to make them aware of these changes. Organizations such as SNAP Outreach, homeless shelters, United Way 211, CAP agencies, etc., may all assist you. There is a Community Partner form below that may help. You may also visit our Local Resources page that includes links to other helpful information.

If my case is closed for using three months of SNAP benefits, but something has changed in my life that I think makes me no longer subject to a time limit, can I get SNAP back?

    Yes. If you’ve used three months of benefits and are then closed, but something has changed, such as you start working or have a child move into your SNAP household, or you move into a waived community, you may re-apply for SNAP benefits and have your SNAP reinstated because you are no longer an ABAWD or no longer subject to ABAWD time limits.

If my case is closed for using three months of SNAP benefits, and nothing changes in my life, when can I get SNAP benefits again?

    ABAWDs can only receive benefits for 3 months in a 36-month period. In Rhode Island, everyone is on the same 36-month timeframe. Rhode Island’s current clock is from September 1, 2017 through August 31, 2020. If nothing changes in your household and you’ve used your three months of benefits, you may be eligible for another three months of benefits beginning September 1, 2020.

What information do I need to send DHS if I think I’m not an ABAWD or should be exempt?

    Here is a form to help you determine if you might be eligible for an exemption. It also lists the documentation you need to provide to DHS to make you exempt.

How should I get my exemption verification to DHS?

    You can bring your verification to a DHS office, mail it to PO Box 8709, Cranston, RI 02920 or if you have a customer portal account, you may upload it there.

Available Forms
Appeals Information

Appeal Rights

If DHS terminates SNAP benefits for any reason including alleged failure to meet the new work/volunteer requirements or denies an exemption, DHS must send a written notice stating the reasons why. If you feel the decision is incorrect, you have 90 days from the date of the notice to request a hearing, and can request continuing benefits until the hearing is held.

You can contact a local DHS office to request a hearing, or visit the Appeals Process Page for more information.