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, also 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.
Richmond, RI lost its waiver September 1, 2017 and an additional 12 cities and towns lost their waiver last year. They were Barrington, Cumberland, Exeter, Glocester, Jamestown, Little Compton, Lincoln, Narragansett, Newport, North Kingstown, North Smithfield and Warwick.
On September 1, 2019, an additional 13 cities and towns will also lose their waiver and ABAWDs in those communities may be subject to a three-month time limit. They are Bristol, Burrillville, Coventry, Cranston, East Greenwich, Foster, Hopkinton, Middletown, Portsmouth, Smithfield, South Kingstown, Tiverton and West Greenwich.
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 to a place where they can thrive remains the Department's goal.
Visit our SNAP ABAWDs page on our website (link is below) for answers to 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.