Important information on SNAP changes for Able-Bodied Adults without DependentsAnswers to frequently asked questions, employment resources and more.
Frequently Asked Questions
An ABAWD is an able-bodied person between the ages of 18 and 49 without dependents in the household. You or any household member between the ages of 18 through 49 may be considered an Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependents (ABAWD). An ABAWD can only be eligible for three (3) months of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamp) benefits in a three (3) year period unless they are participating in the SNAP work requirement. Many SNAP ABAWDS are already complying with the work requirement. The ABAWD SNAP work requirement is:
- Work or volunteer with a reputable source at least 20 hours a week (80 hours per month) or more, OR
- Participate in a qualified training program for an average of 20 hours per week (80 hours per month) or more.
Qualified training programs are offered through the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development and can include:
- A program under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, including any service which organizes education, training, and other services to meet the particular needs of an individual in a manner that accelerates the educational and career advancement of the individual;
- A program under section 236 of the Trade Act of 1974, for example, training for a specific career path; OR
- Attendance in Adult Basic Education (ABE) classes Participating in certain SNAP Education and Training activities is one-way individuals subject to the time limit can fulfill the SNAP ABAWD work requirement, maintain their eligibility to receive SNAP, and learn the skills they need to obtain gainful employment. Visit the TN Department of Labor and Workforce Development for information on Jobs and Education at https://www.tn.gov/workforce.
Individuals are exempt from the time limit if they are:
- Under 18 or 50 years of age or older;
- Medically certified as physically or mentally unfit for employment (verification required by DHS);
- Responsible for a dependent child who lives in the household or resides in the household with a household member who is under 18;
- A parent (natural, adoptive, or step) of a household member under age 18, even if the household member who is under 18 is not him/herself eligible for SNAP;
- Is pregnant;
- Exempt from the general SNAP work requirements under section 6(d) of the Food Stamp Act.
Special note: If you feel that you have a physical or mental barrier to employment, you may be eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation services. The types of services provided are based on the needs of the individual and are designed to help the individual to become employable. Vocational rehabilitation staff will assess the needs in order to determine an appropriate employment objective and prove appropriate services.
A household member can avoid SNAP case closure by complying with the work requirements as quickly as possible; providing the appropriate verification to your caseworker; or contacting your SNAP caseworker if you think that you are exempt from the work requirement.
An individual may regain eligibility at any time by meeting the ABAWD SNAP work requirement for 30 consecutive days or by meeting an exemption from ABAWD work requirements.
You can contact the Family Assistance Services Center at 1-866-311-4287 to inquire about your status. You will also receive a letter indicating you are required to meet the ABAWD work requirements. In Nashville, please dial (615) 743-2000. The call volume may be higher than usual as a result of the change. You can also send us a direct email or view information about your case by using Case Connect: http://www.tn.gov/humanservices/article/family-assistance-questions.
ABAWDs can only get SNAP for 3 months over 3 years if they do not meet the necessary SNAP work requirements. This is called the time limit. The three months are cumulative, so participants can use an individual month at different times throughout the 36 months. To be eligible beyond the time limit, an ABAWD must work at least 20 hours per week, participate in qualifying education and training activities at least 20 hours per week, such as the SNAP Employment and Training program provided by the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development, or volunteer with a reputable organization at least 20 hours per week. ABAWD participants will only be eligible to receive SNAP benefits for three (3) months in a thirty-six (36) month or three (3) year period that began January 1, 2016 and ends December 31, 2018, unless they are participating in the SNAP work requirement or subject to an exemption.
There are approximately 93,000 individuals receiving SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) statewide that would fall into the category of an able-bodied adult without dependents. Many of these individuals are already meeting the work requirement even if their county is waived.
The original ABAWD work requirement was waived during the Great Recession in 2008. Tennessee, along with many other states across the nation has gradually moved toward lifting the waiver as the economy has recovered. With Tennessee's record low unemployment rates and significant job growth, the waiver is no longer needed across most of the state.
The Department conducted a review of all counties, evaluating criteria such as unemployment rates, labor surplus, poverty rate, and per capita income. In order to be included as a distressed county, the county has to rank in the bottom 10% of the nation’s counties and meet three economic indicators. Those indicators are:
- Three-Year Average Unemployment Rates
- Per Capita Market Income
- Poverty Rate
The following 16 counties will be exempt from the ABAWD time count: Bledsoe, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Fentress, Grundy, Hancock, Hardeman, Haywood, Lake, Lauderdale, McNairy, Perry, Scott, Van Buren, and Wayne.
There are employment, volunteer, and higher education opportunities across the Tennessee that could match your interests and help you meet SNAP program requirements. Please see the following for opportunities across the state.
Finding a quality job in economically challenging times can be a very difficult task. Jobs4TN.gov lets individuals analyze their unique skills and interests, as well as what is important to them in a job. It also points to available training programs Additionally, Jobs4TN.gov allows job seekers to review the labor market in any local area, occupation, or industry.
Visit Jobs4tn.gov to see all that it has to offer, including the Jobs4TN.gov mobile app.
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development offers tools to assist and opportunities for employment, including the SNAP Employment & Training Program.
Visit www.tn.gov/workforce/topic/find-local-help to learn more.
Interested in going back to school or starting school for the first time? TN Reconnect can help you chart your course. Visit www.tnreconnect.gov to learn more.
Click on your district below for a sample listing of employment, volunteer, or education resources near you.
District 1 - Carter, Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, Johnson, Sevier, Sullivan, Unicoi, Union and Washington Counties
District 2 - Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Knox, Loudon, Monroe, Morgan, Roane and Scott Counties
District 3 - Cannon, Clay, Cumberland, Dekalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Rutherford, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, VanBuren, Warren, White, Williamson and Wilson Counties
District 4 - Bedford, Bledsoe, Bradley, Coffee, Franklin, Grundy, Hamilton, Lincoln, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Moore, Polk, Rhea and Sequatchie Counties
District 5 - Benton, Cheatham, Decatur, Dickson, Giles, Hardin, Henderson, Henry, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Lawrence, Lewis, Marshall, Maury, Montgomery, Perry, Roberston, Stewart and Wayne Counties
District 6 - Davidson County
District 7 - Carroll, Chester, Crockett, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Haywood, Lake, Lauderdale, Madison, McNairy, Obion, Tipton and Weakley Counties
District 8 - Shelby County