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Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD)

An ABAWD is a person who is applying for, or receiving, CalFresh benefits and is between the ages of 18 and 49, is able to work, and does not have dependent children. An ABAWD customer is limited to receiving three months of CalFresh benefits within a 36-month period, unless he/she:

  1. Is exempt from the ABAWD Time Limit;
  2. Satisfies the CalFresh work requirement;
  3. Qualifies for an additional three consecutive month period of eligibility;
  4. Receives a discretionary exemption; or
  5. Lives in a county or area with a waiver of the ABAWD Time Limit. 

Exempt from the ABAWD Time Limit

Customers who meet the criteria for an exemption are not subject to the Time Limit and are not required to satisfy the work requirement to maintain CalFresh eligibility. Customers are exempt from the ABAWD Time Limit if they are:

  • Exempt from CalFresh Work Registration requirements;
  • Under 18 or over 49 years of age;
  • Residing in a CalFresh household with a household member under the age of 18;
    • The customer is not required to be the parent of the child.
    • The customer is not required to be responsible for the child.
    • The child can be an ineligible member of the CalFresh household for any reason.
    • The child can be temporarily absent from the home (no longer than 30 days).

 Note:  A CalFresh household is a group of individuals who live together and usually purchase food and/or prepare meals together. 

  • Pregnant;
  • Determined physically or mentally unable to work (even if temporary) for one of the following reasons:
    • Applied for/receiving temporary or permanent public or private disability benefits;
    • Medically certified as physically or mentally unable to work; or
    • Obviously unfit to work based on an observation.
  • Participating in an Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) training program at least half time.

If one of these exemptions applies to you or a member of your household, please fill out an ABAWD Time Limit Exemption Screening form and provide it to your worker.

Satisfying the Work Requirement

ABAWD customers who do not qualify for an exemption or live in a waived area are subject to the Time Limit and must satisfy the work requirement to maintain CalFresh eligibility for more than three countable months within the 36-month period. An ABAWD customer can satisfy the work requirement of at least 80 hours per month (or an average of 20 hours per week) through:

  1. Employment –  includes paid employment and self-employment;
  2. Work activity – may be a combination of allowable work activities which include, but are not limited to:
    • CFET activities consisting of work experience, education, or vocational training;
    • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs, including supervised job search, occupational skills training, on-the-job training, job readiness training, adult education, and literacy activities;
    • A program under Section 236 of the Trade Act of 1974; and/or
    • Community service or volunteer work.
  3. Workfare

Good Cause for Failure to Satisfy the Work Requirement

ABAWD customers subject to the Time Limit who would have satisfied the ABAWD work requirement but did not do so for reasons outside of their control, may be granted Good Cause.

  1. Good Cause must be determined on a case-by-case basis.
  2. The month in which Good Cause is applied is not considered a countable month even though the ABAWD customer did not satisfy the work requirement of 80 hours per month (or an average of 20 hours per week).

Good Cause reasons include, but are not limited to:

  1. Illness;
  2. Illness of another household member requiring the presence of the ABAWD customer;
  3. A household emergency;
  4. A declaration of disaster; or
  5. Lack of transportation

Mandatory Mid-Period Reports

ABAWD customers subject to the Time Limit have 10 days to notify the County of the following changes:

  1. Receiving gross monthly income over the Income Reporting Threshold (IRT) (for households approved with income under 130% Federal Poverty Level); and
  2. A reduction in work hours below 80 hours per month (or an average of 20 hours per week).

Any other household changes must be reported at the next periodic report or recertification, whichever is sooner.

Countable Months

A countable month is any month in which an ABAWD customer subject to the Time Limit receives CalFresh benefits for a full month while not being exempt, satisfying the work requirement, or living in an area with a waiver of the ABAWD Time Limit.

Note: The month in which an exemption ends is not considered a countable month if the customer qualified for an exemption for any part of the month.

Losing Eligibility

An ABAWD customer who is not exempt from the ABAWD Time Limit and has exhausted their three countable months is ineligible for CalFresh benefits. The customer shall remain ineligible for the remainder of the 36-month period unless they regain eligibility, qualify for an ABAWD exemption, or move to a waived county or area.

Note: For CalFresh households consisting of more than one person, the benefits are only discontinued for the ABAWD customer who is subject to the Time Limit and failed to satisfy the work requirement, not the entire household.

Regaining Eligibility

A customer who is ineligible to CalFresh benefits for not satisfying the ABAWD work requirement will remain ineligible until they meet the requirements for regaining eligibility.

An ABAWD customer may regain eligibility at any time if he/she:

  1. Satisfies the ABAWD work requirement within any consecutive 30-day period prior to application;
  2. Qualifies for an ABAWD exemption for any part of the month;
  3. Moves to a waived county or area; or
  4. Reaches the end of the 36-month period.

If the customer regains eligibility through employment or other qualifying work activity, they must provide verification they satisfied the ABAWD work requirement within a consecutive 30-day period. The consecutive 30-day period does not have to be right before the date of application.

Note:  There is no limit on the number of times an ABAWD customer may regain eligibility within the 36-month period.

Additional Three Consecutive Months

In certain circumstances, ABAWD customers may be granted an additional three consecutive months of eligibility after they exhausted their three countable months. This only applies to ABAWD customers who have regained eligibility by satisfying the work requirement within any consecutive 30-day period but then stopped satisfying the work requirement. ABAWD individuals cannot receive the additional three consecutive months if they regained eligibility through qualifying for an exemption, moving to a waived county or area, or applying after the 36-month clock has reset. This allows the ABAWD customer to be given three additional months of benefits to be used consecutively.

  1. Once the first of the three consecutive months is issued, the other two months will automatically follow even if the ABAWD satisfies the work requirement or qualifies for an exemption during that time.
  2. The three consecutive months of eligibility are only available once during the 36-month period.
  3. The three consecutive months will start when the ABAWD customer notifies the County that they are no longer satisfying the work requirement or when the ABAWD customer is no longer in compliance.