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What is the “ABAWD” 3-month time limit for certain childless adults?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed June 2023

The ABAWD time limit is currently not in effect in Massachusetts. Check MassLegalServices.org/DTA-COVID-19 for updates. When it is in effect, many childless adults – ages 18 through 50  – can only get 3 months of SNAP in a 36-month period unless the individual is exempt from or meeting certain work rules. This federal SNAP rule affects individuals determined to be “able-bodied adults without dependents” or “ABAWDs.” See 106 C.M.R. §362.320.

You may be exempt from this rule if you have a short- or long-term incapacity or disability, are homeless, living with a child under age 18, are pregnant, attending college as a SNAP-eligible student, used to be in foster care, are a veteran, or meet other exemptions.

If not exempt, ABAWDs are required to work 20 hours a week, be in a training program 20 hours a week, or do a certain number of community service hours to keep their SNAP. These rules are not currently in place in Massachusetts. 

DTA Online Guide: See Appendix G for links to the DTA's BEACON Online Guide.

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