Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents – ABAWDs – Food Stamp Requirements

Changes to requirements for Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents ZjQfuf0N(ABAWDs) receiving Food Stamps went into place on January 1, 2016. Sara Robbins and Katie Scott, Benefits Attorneys at Solid Ground, have kept the Coalition in the loop with requirements and exemptions to this policy, and provided resources for service providers and clients. This policy change impacts ABAWDs in Snohomish, King, and Pierce County (except for Tacoma and Lakewood). Please read below for information about the changes, and for information about how you can support your clients.

Feel free to read, review, and print handouts with information for clients, service providers, and about work requirements and time limits.

**IMPORTANT UPDATE: Individuals that are homeless and unable to work can self-report that they are homeless to DSHS. DSHS should not require any further documentation regarding homelessness. Individuals should be able to report this information to anyone at DSHS both in the Community Service Offices (CSO) and over the phone through the call center. Please contact Family Assistance at Solid Ground at (206) 694-6742 if this is not actually happening.

Here are some important highlights for service providers and clients:

  • ABAWDs who do not meet certain work requirements will only be able to receive 3 months of food stamps in any 36 month period.
  • These policy changes came into effect on January 1, 2016, meaning that the first round of ABAWDs will lose their benefits on April 1, 2016 (after the first three months of 2016).
  • Seemingly all people who receive food stamp benefits from DSHS received letters notifying them of a loss of benefits at the end of the first 3 months of 2016, regardless of their status as an ABAWD. (See an example of this letter here.) This means that:
    • Some clients who are not ABAWDs received this letter. They should call their local CSO to speak to someone in the ABAWDs unit and confirm that they will not lose their benefits because they do not meet ABAWD requirements.
    • Some clients without regular access to mail will have missed this letter. All folks receiving food stamp benefits should confirm their status of receiving food stamps as soon as possible by contacting their local CSO to declare an exemption to policy or find out if they will lose their benefits.
  • An ABAWD is defined as a person who:
    • Is age 18-49
    • Does not take care of any minor children
    • Is not pregnant and
    • Is capable of working
  • Work requirements that an ABAWD must meet to receive continued food stamps:
    • Work at least 20 hours per week, averaged monthly (80 hours/month)
    • Complete 16 volunteer hours per month at a Workfare organization
    • Participate in Basic Food Employment and Training (BFET)
    • In King and Pierce Counties, participate in Resources to Initiate Successful Employment (RISE)
    • Participate in state-approved employment or training program, such as LEP Pathway, AmeriCorps VISTA, or Refugee with Special Employment Needs (RSEN) Project
  • Exemptions in place for ABAWDs include, but are not limited to:
    • Receiving or applied for unemployment benefits
    • Student enrolled at least halftime in a recognized school
    • Unable to find work because you are homeless
    • Caring for a disabled person or a frail elder who is incapacitated
    • Participating in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program
    • Receiving a disability-based benefit (SSI, SSDI, ABD, etc.)
  • How can you, as a service provider, help your clients?
    • ABAWDs will need their work requirements or exemptions to be verified. Fax a letter with your client’s DSHS ID number directed to “ATTN: ABAWD UNIT”unit at DSHS at 1-888-338-7410. Make sure to save your fax receipt for proof of sending. If your client already has a documented exemption with DSHS, they should call their CSO 1-877-501-2233 to verify this exemption.
    • For clients requiring assistance from Solid Ground:
      • Clients can call the Solid Ground intake line at 206-694-6742. These calls are returned within 24 hours.
      • If a client does not have regular phone access, they can visit the Solid Ground office at 1501 N. 45th St., Seattle, WA 98103 (office located on the 2nd floor). Solid Ground does not have the capacity to receive all intakes in-person.
      • Katie Scott can be contacted directly through email at kscott[at]solid-ground[dot]org with questions or to report issues with the process of declaring exemptions or contacting the ABAWDs unit at DSHS.