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USDA/FNS RIN: 0584-AE57 Publication ID: Fall 2019 
Title: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Requirements for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents  

Federal law generally limits the amount of time an able-bodied adult without dependents (ABAWD) can receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to 3 months in a 36-month period, unless the individual meets certain work requirements. On the request of a State SNAP agency, the law also gives the Department of Agriculture (the Department) the authority to temporarily waive the time limit in areas that have an unemployment rate of over 10 percent or a lack of sufficient jobs. The law also provides State agencies with a limited number of percentage exemptions that can be used by States to extend SNAP eligibility for ABAWDs subject to the time limit. Through this final rule the Department will respond to public comments on the NPRM and consider amendments to the regulatory standards by which the Department evaluates State SNAP agency requests to waive the time limit and to the current policy that allows unlimited carryover of ABAWD percentage exemptions.

Agency: Department of Agriculture(USDA)  Priority: Economically Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: Yes  Unfunded Mandates: No 
EO 13771 Designation: Regulatory 
CFR Citation: 7 CFR 273.24(f)   
Legal Authority: sec. 6(o)(4) of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, as amended, 7 U.S.C. 2011 to 2036   
Legal Deadline:  None

Statement of Need:

SNAP offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families; this nutrition assistance also provides economic benefits to communities. It is important that SNAP support self-sufficiency and reduce the need for government assistance for its program participants. The Department recognizes that a well-paying job provides the best path to self-sufficiency for those who are able to work. To that end, the Department aims to create conditions that incentivize SNAP program participants to find employment.


Summary of the Legal Basis:

The rule makes changes within the authority of Sec. 6(o)(4) of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, as amended, 7 U.S.C. 2011 to 2036, to better utilize SNAP requirements for ABAWDS to engage this group of SNAP program participants to find employment.


(1) No change to current regulations retain the scope of existing waiver opportunities;

(2) Finalizing as proposed;

(3) Modifying proposal based on priorities identified and comments provided during public review regarding size and definition of waivable areas (multiple options considered).

Anticipated Costs and Benefits:

The Department estimated the net reduction in federal spending associated with the proposed rule to be approximately $1.1 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2020 and $7.9 billion over the five years 2020-2024. This is a reduction in federal transfers (SNAP benefit payments), representing a 2.5 percent decrease in projected SNAP benefit spending over this time period.  We would expect that the changes in the final rule to be roughly at that order of magnitude, but a precise estimate is pending final policy decisions.

The projected benefit of the rule is to better engage ABAWDs and encourage them to seek and secure employment. Those who become employed will likely see increased self-sufficiency and an overall improvement in their economic well-being.


The purpose of this rule is to increase engagement of able-bodied adults in the workforce, consistent with the requirements of Section 6(o)(4) of the Food and Nutrition Act.  Retaining existing policy to allow broad waivers of these requirements substantially increase the risk that able-bodied adults who could reasonably be expected to work will not seek to do so.

Action Date FR Cite
ANPRM  02/23/2018  83 FR 8013   
NPRM  02/01/2019  84 FR 980   
NPRM Comment Period End  04/02/2019 
Final Action  12/00/2019 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: Local, State 
Small Entities Affected: Businesses  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Charles H. Watford
Regulatory Review Specialist
Department of Agriculture
Food and Nutrition Service
1320 Braddock Place,
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone:703 605-0800

Kelly Stewart
Chief, Planning and Regulatory Affairs Office
Department of Agriculture
Food and Nutrition Service
3101 Park Center Drive,
Alexandria, VA 22302
Phone:703 305-2425