ABAWD Waiver Changes Due to COVID-19

On March 18, 2020, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act implementing several initiatives to help mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19. As a result of this legislation, the following are changes to the ABAWD policy.

SNAP recipients who are age 18 through 49 who are able to work, but not working 80 hours a month, and have no minor-age children in their SNAP household are known as Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWDS).

Effective April 1, 2020, the three-month time limit will be lifted for ABAWDs in Rhode Island. This change will apply to all cities and towns throughout the state without regard to whether they had been waived or unwaived.

One population of ABAWDs may still be subject to the time limit. If an ABAWD had been placed in a work or employment and training program, such as SNAP E&T and stops participating without good cause, they will be subject to the three-month time limit. The determination of whether there was good cause, such as a health or safety reason or a training program that has become unavailable due COVID-19, will be made by DHS staff. If good cause is determined, they will be able to maintain benefits beyond three months.

The suspension of the time limit begins April 1, 2020 and will continue through the end of the month subsequent to the month in which the public health emergency declaration by the Secretary of Health and Human Services based on an outbreak of COVID-19 is lifted. We will communicate any such changes.

An ABAWD will be granted a waiver from the time limit if they have good cause for being unable to participate in a SNAP E&T program or work, including but not limited to the COVID-19 impact. Programs that are conducted online or through other methods of distance learning will still be offered and participation is encouraged.

Continue to get COVID-19, DHS updates by visiting our website and our Facebook page. For the latest COVID-19 updates and guidance from the RI Department of Health, click here." The COVID-19 information line is 401-222-8022.

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.

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.

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.