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Frequently Asked Questions to Upcoming Changes for our State's ABAWDs

For most people there is no time limit for how long residents can receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, yet federal rules do limit this food assistance to 3 months in a 36-month period for people age 18 through 49 who are able to work and have no dependents. They are known as Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWDs).

Since 1996, SNAP rules have held ABAWDs to this time limit. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics annually reviews the availability of employment in a city or town and compares it against the number of eligible workers in that city or town, and the results may allow a community to be waived from the time limit because they are a labor surplus area. For many years, the unemployment rate in RI exempted residents of every city and town from the time limit.

As of September 1, 2018, ABAWDs ONLY in the following towns may be subject to a three-month time limit: Barrington, Cumberland, Exeter, Glocester, Jamestown, Lincoln, Little Compton, Narragansett, Newport, North Kingstown, North Smithfield, Richmond and Warwick. Again, those living in other communities are not impacted.

DHS is committed to helping all of its customers, and we have a plan in place to offer additional services for those who are impacted by the loss of this exemption status. We are engaging our many community partners and existing programs at other Rhode Island agencies to help these individuals and families to self-sufficiency. Moving all out of poverty remains the Department's goal.

A new addition to this website answers the most common questions ABAWDs and others may have with this upcoming change. It also includes helpful resources, forms that may be needed and details about our appeals process.

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