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December 26, 2019 | January 02, 2020 | 3,044 total views

Earlier in December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published a final rule regarding eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or CalFresh in California) for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs), set to take effect April 1, 2020.

An ABAWD is defined as a SNAP recipient who is:

  • Between 18 and 49 years of age;
  • Physically and mentally fit for employment;
  • Not responsible for a dependent child nor residing in a household where a member is under age 18;
  • Not exempt from SNAP work requirements; and
  • Not pregnant.

The current rule allows states to waive some of these restrictions if they can show that the unemployment rate was higher than average or if they can show lack of sufficient jobs available for a certain area. This flexibility allowed individuals to retain needed food and nutrition assistance, despite the unpredictability of the labor market. This new rule, however, makes it significantly more complex to demonstrate “lack of sufficient jobs” and therefore removes some states’ ability to waive restrictions on SNAP receipt.

This rule change has the potential to affect almost 300,000 SNAP recipients throughout California, most of whom live in poverty. LAHSA opposed this change when it was first proposed in February 2019 – SNAP is our nation’s most important and widely used anti-hunger program and has been a longtime bulwark against food insecurity for low-income and homeless individuals. You can find our public comment in opposition, approved by the LAHSA Commission in March, here. For more information on the rule change and how it may affect your benefits, click here for a more detailed analysis of the rule change and here for a list of CalFresh office locations in Los Angeles County. If you have any questions, please contact Samantha Vethavanam, Legislative Affairs Analyst at svethavanam@lahsa.org.

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