536.2 ABAWD Exemptions

To determine whether an individual meets an exemption from time-limited benefits, first the CAO must determine whether they are outside the ABAWD age range or live in a geographically-waived area (see: Section 536.21).  eCIS will assign an eligibility status code based on the address and date of birth.


Status Code


Use Case


Non-Eligible Member

An individual that is not included in the SNAP household.


Eligible Member

An individual who is under age 18 or age 50 or older and thus is not subject to time-limited benefits.

7 CFR § 273.24(c)(1)


Eligible Able-Bodied Waived Adult

An individual who is between age 18 and 49, but resides in a geographically-waived area and thus is not subject to time-limited benefits.

7 CFR § 273.24(f)


Eligible Able-Bodied Adult

An individual who is between age 18 and 49 who is subject to time-limited benefits unless exempt or meeting the federal ABAWD work requirement.


The CAO must assign individuals a SNAP Qualification code (Qual Code) in eCIS to indicate whether they are exempt from the ABAWD time limit, meeting the ABAWD federal work requirement, or neither.

The CAO must assign the first applicable Qual Code in the list below:

Qual Code Exempt?


Work Rqmts?
Description Use Case
01 Yes N/A Resides in a SNAP household with a child under age 18

A child under 18 lives in the same SNAP household as the individual.

7 CFR §273.24(c)(4)

02 Yes N/A Disabled or receives federal or state disability.

Individual receives Social Security Disability, SSI, VA Disability (10% or higher rating), or disability-related MA for which they are certified by the state MRT.

NOTE: Veteran’s disability must be for the veteran themselves, not a survivor.  The exemption applies for both pensions and disability payments and is only applicable for SNAP ABAWD purposes.

7 CFR §273.24(c)(2)(i)

03 Yes N/A Meets federal E&T exemption codes 04, 12, 14, 17, 20, or 21

See: Chapter 535.3.

7 CFR §273.24(c)(5)

04 Yes N/A Pregnant

Individual is pregnant (any trimester).

7 CFR §273.24(c)(6)

10 Yes N/A Unable to work as determined by DHS

Assign Qual. Code 10 if:

-Individual is unable to work due to being a victim or survivor of domestic violence

-Individual is participating in a substance use disorder (SUD), mental health, or Vocational Rehabilitation Program

-The individual has a physical/mental impairment that is obvious to the CAO

-The individual is chronically homeless (homeless for the past six months or an established pattern over two years)

7 CFR §273.24(c)(2)(ii)

-The individual has a verified physical/mental impairment that is not obvious (PA 1921 or other medical evidence required)

7 CFR §273.24(c)(2)(iii)

05 No Yes Working at least 20 hours a week averaged monthly

Individual is employed at least 20 hours per week averaged monthly

7 CFR §273.24(a)(1)(i)

06 No Yes Participating in an E&T approved activity except job search/prep (20 hours/week)

Individual is meeting the work requirement through participation in an E&T program, or through a combination of work and participation in E&T.

See: Chapter 536.22

NOTE: Individuals meeting the work requirement by participating in the E&T community service activity are assigned Qual Code 07.

7 CFR §273.24(a)(1)(ii)

7 CFR §273.24(a)(1)(iii)

07 No Yes Participating in a workfare program

Individual is meeting the work requirement by participating in the E&T community service activity for the required hours.

See: Chapter 536.22.

7 CFR §273.24(a)(1)(iv)

09 Yes No Meets state E&T exemption codes 06, 15, 16, 19, or 23

See: Chapter 535.3

7 CFR §273.24(g)(3)

11 No* No ABAWD time limit expiration appeal Individual appeals the closure of benefits due to the ABAWD time limit and elects to keep receiving benefits pending the outcome of the appeal.
20 No No Does not meet an exemption or work requirement

Individual who is not meeting the work requirement and to whom no exemption applies.

7 CFR §273.24(b)(1)

21 No No* Regained eligibility as designated in the FSH, Section 536.25

Individual met the work requirement at some point after exhausting their initial three countable months but is no longer meeting the work requirement.  May only be used once per fixed three-year period to authorize three additional countable months of benefits.

See: Chapter 536.25

7 CFR §273.24(e)


As long as an individual is exempt from ABAWD requirements, receipt of SNAP benefits is not limited to three months.



Students and ABAWD status


Eligible students (see: Chapter 514.2) enrolled at least half-time in any recognized school, training program, or institution of higher education are exempt from work registration (ETP 20) and thus also exempt from the ABAWD time limit (Qual Code 3).

The exemption ends upon the student’s graduation, suspension, expulsion, dropping out, or not intending to register at least half-time for the next normal school term.  A student who was enrolled at least half-time during the spring term and intends to enroll at least half-time for the fall term continues to be exempt during summer vacation (see: Chapter 514.22).

Students enrolled less than half-time should be reviewed to determine if they meet any other ABAWD exemptions.  Students who do not meet an exemption from the time limit should be encouraged to volunteer to participate in the SNAP E&T program through the KEYS or KEYS Expansion program, if appropriate (see: Chapter 535.1). Students who participate in SNAP E&T can count their class time and reasonable study time toward the 20 hour per week ABAWD work requirement.  The CAO must advise students that volunteering to participate in SNAP E&T is one way to meet the work requirement.

536.21 Geographical Waived Areas

Individuals living in geographical waived areas are exempt from the time limit for receipt of SNAP benefits. Waiver requests are submitted by the Bureau of Policy and the Bureau of Employment Programs and are subject to approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).  FNS may waive the time limit and work requirements for a specific area in the state if it has been determined that the area:

7 CFR § 273.24(f)

The waiver can be approved statewide, by county, or by civil sub-division.  These waived areas are announced each year and are identified in the system when the CAO enters a Global Information System (GIS) validated address.  Address validation is important because ABAWD geographic waivers are tied to GIS-validated addresses.

Appendix A contains the listing of current geographical areas waived by FNS.

NOTE:  As long as an individual resides in a geographically waived area, receipt of SNAP benefits is not limited to three months.


536.22 ABAWD Federal Work Requirement

An ABAWD is meeting the federal work requirement if the individual meets one of the following:

7 CFR § 273.24(a)(1)

7 CFR §273.24(a)(2)(i)

7 CFR §273.24(a)(2)(ii)

7 CFR §273.24(a)(2)(iv)

NOTE: Participation in a job search or a job readiness and job preparation activity does not qualify as a primary activity but participation in these activities of up to 10 hours per week may be combined with participation in a different activity to meet an individual’s participation requirement.

7 CFR §273.24(a)(3)(iii)

7 CFR §273.24(a)(3)(iv)

7 CFR §273.24(a)(1)(iii)

7 CFR §273.24(a)(1)(iv)

As long as an individual meets the work requirement, receipt of SNAP benefits is not limited to three months. 

 7 CFR §273.24(b)(1)(iii)

536.23 Good Cause

If an individual would have worked or participated in a work program an average of 20 hours per week but missed some work for good cause, the individual should be considered to have met the work requirement if the absence from work is temporary and the individual retains his or her job.  Good cause shall include, but is not limited to the following:

 7 CFR § 273.24(b)(2)


536.24 Meeting the ABAWD Discretionary Exemption

Each state is allotted ABAWD exemptions equal to 12 percent of the state’s SNAP caseload that is ineligible because of the ABAWD time limit. These "discretionary exemptions” (sometimes also referred to as “12% exemptions”) allow the state to extend SNAP eligibility to ABAWDs who would otherwise be ineligible because of the three-month time limit. See Appendix B for a list of the current discretionary exemptions. 


536.25 Regaining Eligibility

ABAWDs who have exhausted their three countable months may regain eligibility at any time by:

7 CFR § 273.24(d)

NOTE: There is no limit on how many times an ABAWD may regain eligibility. Once eligibility is regained, the ABAWD is authorized using the proper SNAP Qualification Code.




An ABAWD who has regained eligibility but then stops meeting the ABAWD work requirement may be eligible for an additional three consecutive months of SNAP eligibility.

7 CFR § 273.24(e)

This additional three-month eligibility period:

·         Must be used consecutively



Updated June 1, 2023; Replacing November 25, 2019