Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD) Work Requirements for Food Assistance Frequently Asked Questions


How do I know if I am an ABAWD?

An ABAWD is an able-bodied adult without dependents who is age 18 through 49; physically or mentally able to work; does not live and eat with a child under age 18; is not pregnant; and is not otherwise exempt from food assistance work program requirements.

What does it mean to be an ABAWD for food assistance?

If you are an able-bodied adult without a dependent who is physically and mentally able to work, and you do not have any of the exceptions (such as pregnant, unable to work, having a child in the household under 18, exempt from work requirements) you will be required to participate in the SNAP Employment and Training program, operated by Local Workforce Development Areas across the state of Florida. To find a LWDA near you, visit: http://www.floridajobs.org/onestop/onestopdir/

What should I do if I am unable to work?

If you have not already reported the condition or situation that makes you unable to work, or you think you may be excluded from the ABAWD work requirements, please report this in your My ACCESS Account by selecting “report a change.”

How will I be notified if I have work requirements for food assistance?

  • The LWDA (CareerSource) will mail notices to households that include a person who has work requirements.
  • Notices will be sent by regular mail, even if you opted to receive notices electronically from DCF.
  • Once you have completed orientation with CareerSource, you will be able to opt in to receive future notices from CareerSource electronically.
  • It is very important that DCF and CareerSource have a valid mailing address on file for your household.

Who do I notify if I have a job?

If you are working, notify DCF. Beginning January 1, 2016, when you apply, or when you renew your food assistance benefits, if you are working less than 30 hours per week and you are identified as a person who could have work requirements, your information will be sent to a LWDA and you will be contacted to begin tracking your work hours or work requirements.

What are Local Workforce Development Areas?

Florida’s LWDAs assist in providing information about available jobs, on-the-job training, and education and training services. ABAWDs can meet work requirements in a variety of ways by accessing services offered through LWDA career centers. To find the LWDA career center near you, visit http://www.floridajobs.org/onestop/onestopdir/

What are the food assistance work requirements for ABAWDs?

An ABAWD must meet the work requirements each month to continue to receive food assistance benefits. Even if you are already meeting these requirements CareerSource will still contact you so your hours can be tracked. Work requirements for an ABAWD to continue receiving food assistance benefits are:

  • Working or volunteering 20 hours per week (averaged to 80 hours monthly)
  • Participating 20 hours per week in a LWDA work program (averaged to 80 hours monthly)
  • Completing a combination of these activities that averages to 80 hours monthly

You must inform your CareerSource worker of your hours. Failure to contact CareerSource will result in benefits ending. If you are already meeting the work requirements and you receive a notice, you must still complete orientation.

If my benefits end because I did not meet work requirements, what should I do?

You can regain your eligibility before you reapply by doing the following:

  • Working or volunteering 80 hours or more during any month before reapplying
  • Participating in a work program for 80 hours or more during any month before reapplying
  • Completing a combination of the above that averages to 80 hours during any month before reapplying.

How long do I have to wait to get my benefits again if I do not meet work requirements?

The minimum waiting (also known as sanction) period is one month, but could be as long as 3 or 6 months if it is the second or third time that you have not completed work requirements.

What are sanctions and time limits and how do these affect a person identified as an ABAWD?

If you are an ABAWD and you do not comply with work requirements, or do not meet an exemption or an exception, a sanction will be imposed that stops food assistance benefits. When you are not compliant, any months of food assistance benefits you receive are counted as time limited months. You can only get three months of time-limited food assistance during the 36-month period from January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2018.

What should I do if I receive a notice that my benefits will be sanctioned (stopped) on a certain effective date, and I have new information to report?

If you need to report new information before the effective date of a sanction, you can report a change in your MyACCESS Account, contact the ACCESS Customer Call Center, or visit an ACCESS Service Center or Community Partner. If you need to report new information after the effective date of a sanction, you must reapply for benefits at www.myflorida.com/accessflorida and your condition will be evaluated.

Why do ABAWDs have to complete work requirements for food assistance?

Federal law mandates that food assistance benefits for ABAWDs must have time-limits and work requirements. Time-limits and work requirements have not been mandatory since 2009 because of high unemployment rates, which have significantly improved in Florida. Here is some program history:

  • The federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 required ABAWDs to participate in work-related activities to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
  • During times of high unemployment, the federal requirement can be waived, or put aside, as has been the case in Florida since 2009.
  • Florida’s improved economy has made the state ineligible to waive the federal requirement, and beginning January 1, 2016, it will be implemented again.

If I am identified as an ABAWD, will it change the amount of my SNAP benefits?

No. Being identified as an ABAWD does not change the amount of your food assistance benefits.

Can I opt out of this program?

No. If you are identified as an ABAWD, you must complete the work requirements. You cannot opt out if you want to keep receiving your food assistance benefits.

If I am an ABAWD with work requirements for the food assistance program, does this affect my Medicaid eligibility or temporary cash assistance (TCA)?

Persons identified as ABAWDs are not likely to have Medicaid or TCA because a person must be disabled or have children in the household to be eligible for those benefits.

What should I do if I cannot work temporarily?

You must report your condition to DCF as soon as possible for your temporary situation to be given consideration.