ABAWD Requirements

The term ABAWD refers to "Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependents" within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) context.

ABAWD, which stands for “Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents,” refers to specific requirements within the United States food assistance program, more commonly known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). These requirements are aimed at individuals who are deemed able to work. Here’s an in-depth look at ABAWD requirements:

ABAWD categorizes a particular group of individuals within the SNAP program. These are adults aged 18-49 who are not disabled and do not have dependents. The rationale behind ABAWD requirements is to encourage employment and self-sufficiency among able-bodied adults receiving food assistance. ABAWDs must report their work status and any changes in employment to their local SNAP office. Failure to report accurately can result in the termination of benefits.

While the ABAWD requirements aim to promote self-sufficiency, critics argue that these rules can be harsh for individuals struggling to find steady employment, especially in areas with limited job opportunities. The effectiveness and fairness of ABAWD requirements often come under scrutiny during economic downturns, when jobs are harder to find.

Who is Considered an ABAWD?

You may be considered an ABAWD if you meet the following criteria:

  • Generally, between 18 and 49 years old (specifics may vary slightly by state).
  • Able to work without limitations due to disabilities or health conditions.
  • No minor children (under 21) living in your household.
  • Not claiming an exemption that qualifies you for work requirement flexibility.

Failure to meet the ABAWD work requirements or qualify for an exemption will result in a limited timeframe for receiving SNAP benefits. After the initial 3-month period, you will lose SNAP eligibility for 36 months unless you fulfill the work requirements or become exempt.

What Are the ABAWD Work Requirements

What Are the ABAWD Work Requirements?

If you fall under the ABAWD category, you have a 3-month time limit to receive SNAP benefits unless you meet one of the following work requirements:

  • Work at least 20 hours per week: This translates to an average of 80 hours per month. The work can be paid, self-employed, volunteer, or in-kind (exchanged for non-monetary benefits).
  • Participate in a work program: Enroll in and actively participate in an approved work program for at least 80 hours per month. These programs can include SNAP Employment and Training, state-approved training programs, or other authorized initiatives.
  • Combine work and program hours: Participate in a combination of work and work program hours to reach at least 80 hours per month.


Several circumstances can exempt you from ABAWD work requirements. Some common exemptions include:

  • Enrolled in a higher education institution at least 32 hours of coursework per week.
  • Providing primary care for a disabled household member.
  • Pregnant or within 3 months of childbirth.
  • Enrolled in specific vocational training, rehabilitation, or treatment programs.

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