SNAP ABAWD Time Limits


SNAP offices in all counties are not to impose the ABAWD 3-month time limit rule starting on April 1, 2020 and until otherwise instructed by OTDA.

Childless adults between the ages of 18 and 49—referred to in SNAP regulations as Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD)—are subject to a time limit rule.

The rule limits SNAP benefits for people identified as an “ABAWD” to three full months in a defined three year period unless they live in a waived area of the state, qualify for an exemption, or meet work requirements (see our Desk Guide). The current three year period runs from January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2021.

Note: if a recipient lost benefits due to this rule during the previous three year period (January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2018), they may again be eligible for SNAP benefits and can reapply.

For more information, contact Dawn Secor, SNAP Policy Specialist, at 518-436-8757 ext. 112 or email [email protected].

Media coverage:

Spectrum News segment featuring Hunger Solutions New York’s Sherry Tomaksy

New York Times — What Happened When a State Made Food Stamps Harder to Get

Our ABAWD Time Limit Toolkit

Desk Guide for Community Organizations
Information on waivers, exemptions, work requirements, and actions steps for community organizations working with SNAP recipients

Checklist to determine if SNAP ABAWD time limits may apply to an individual

Client flyer
Flyer with time limit language that speaks directly to clients

“Unfit for work” Medical Statement Form
 Sample form for health care providers to document “unfit for work” exemption

SNAP Prescreening Guide
Comprehensive guide to determine potential SNAP eligibility in New York State

USDA’s final rule regarding time limit waivers

On December 4, 2019, the USDA published its final rule restricting states’ ability to waive areas of high unemployment from the SNAP Time Limit Rule. Currently, New York is one of 36 states that waive this rule in certain areas to ensure continued SNAP access for individuals in areas with insufficient jobs. This new rule takes effect on April 1, 2020. After this date, states can still request waivers, but must use the more restrictive criteria described below.

Changes to waiver criteria:

  • Requires a waived area to have an average unemployment rate of at least 6% over a 24-month period (much higher than before) and requires that the area’s average unemployment rate be 20% above the national average for that same 24-month period.
  • Eliminates extended unemployment benefits (EUB) as a waiver criterion. EUB are often used during times of recession or economic downturn to provide long term benefits to unemployed people. Under the final rule, states with rapidly rising unemployment may not qualify for a waiver even if the state’s unemployment rate qualifies it for EUB.
  • Limits state flexibility on how to define an “area” when seeking waivers by requiring states to use Labor Department “Labor Market Areas”. This change dramatically reduces NYS’s ability to waive cities, counties in metro areas, or groupings of counties in regions experiencing economic hardship.

Changes to 12% (or individual) exemptions:

Currently, states have the ability to exempt individuals from the time limit rule using an allocation of exemptions that they receive every year. In the past, states could carry over multiple years worth of unused exemptions. The final rule limits unused exemption roll-over to only those from the prior one year. These specific changes take effect October 1, 2020.

People who may be subject to this final rule can continue to count on SNAP for now. While the final rule is scheduled to take effect on April 1, 2020, national anti-hunger advocates are evaluating all options to fight this rule.

Use our ABAWD time limit toolkit (top of page) to ensure individuals eligible for SNAP do not lose their benefits.

Impacts in NYS

It is estimated that:

113,000 individuals will be newly subjected to the rule, including 73,000 people in NYC and 40,000 upstate.

In total, 130,000 people will be subject to the rule including 83,000 people in NYC and 47,000 upstate (approximately 17,000 people are currently subject to the rule in non-waived counties).

More than 48,000 people will lose SNAP benefits. (Urban Institute)

Our economy will lose $102 million annually in SNAP benefits. (Urban Institute)

Only one county in NYS, Hamilton County, is estimated to remain eligible for the ABAWD waiver, allowing only 7 people across NYS to be waived from the time limit rule under the new criteria.

Impacts by County/Borough

These tables show the impacts of the new waiver criteria in different areas of NYS. NOTE: Hamilton County is the only county in the state estimated to be waived from the time limit rule, and as such, does not appear in either table. It is estimated that 7 people in that county will be waived from time limit rules.

This data is based on the October 2019 SNAP caseload and is meant to provide a representation of the impact of the final rule across NYS. Source: NYSOTDA

Number of People Newly Subject to the Rule Due to Loss of Waivers

  Individuals Newly Subject to Rule
Borough Bronx 20,656
Manhattan* 10,617
Staten Island 2,704
Brooklyn 35,899
Queens* 3,386
REST OF STATE (by county) 40,176
  Allegany 176
Broome 1,427
Cayuga 496
Chautauqua 1,846
Chemung 891
Chenango 280
Clinton 631
Deleware 58
Dutchess* 283
Erie 8,988
Essex 133
Franklin 367
Fulton 239
Genesee 147
Herkimer 462
Jefferson 987
Monroe 7,191
Montgomery 258
Niagara 1,658
Oneida 1,597
Onondaga 4,550
Orange* 237
Orleans 271
Oswego 1,112
Otsego 180
Rockland* 86
Schenectady* 551
Schoharie 201
Schuyler 105
Seneca 77
St. Lawrence 919
Steuben 526
Sullivan 598
Warren 203
Wayne 204
Westchester* 2,171
Wyoming 26
Yates 44

*These boroughs/counties contain waived cities or areas but were not waived in their entirety.

Number of People Subject to the Rule Prior to Waiver Criteria Change

These counties/boroughs were not waived as of October, 2019.

  Individuals Subject to the Rule
Borough Manhattan* 3,504
Queens* 6,148
REST OF STATE (by county) 7,256
  Albany 810
Cattaraugus 267
Columbia 91
Cortland 145
Dutchess* 185
Greene 62
Lewis 58
Livingston 140
Madison 123
Nassau 625
Ontario 212
Orange* 267
Putnam 11
Rensselaer 286
Rockland* 243
Saratoga 221
Schenectady* 101
Suffolk 2,006
Tioga 98
Tompkins 283
Ulster 395
Washington 122
Westchester* 505

*These boroughs/counties contain waived cities or areas but were not waived in their entirety.