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ABAWD Waiver Changes Due to COVID-19

On March 18, 2020, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act implementing several initiatives to help mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19. As a result of this legislation, the following are changes to the ABAWD policy.

SNAP recipients who are age 18 through 49 who are able to work, but not working 80 hours a month, and have no minor-age children in their SNAP household are known as Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWDS).

Effective April 1, 2020, the three-month time limit will be lifted for ABAWDs in Rhode Island. This change will apply to all cities and towns throughout the state without regard to whether they had been waived or unwaived.

One population of ABAWDs may still be subject to the time limit. If an ABAWD had been placed in a work or employment and training program, such as SNAP E&T and stops participating without good cause, they will be subject to the three-month time limit. The determination of whether there was good cause, such as a health or safety reason or a training program that has become unavailable due COVID-19, will be made by DHS staff. If good cause is determined, they will be able to maintain benefits beyond three months.

The suspension of the time limit begins April 1, 2020 and will continue through the end of the month subsequent to the month in which the public health emergency declaration by the Secretary of Health and Human Services based on an outbreak of COVID-19 is lifted. We will communicate any such changes.

An ABAWD will be granted a waiver from the time limit if they have good cause for being unable to participate in a SNAP E&T program or work, including but not limited to the COVID-19 impact. Programs that are conducted online or through other methods of distance learning will still be offered and participation is encouraged.

Continue to get COVID-19, DHS updates by visiting our website (see below for link) and our Facebook page. For the latest COVID-19 updates and guidance from the RI Department of Health, visit (see below for link). The COVID-19 information line is 401-222-8022.

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