Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) regulations provide that certain able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) are subject to a maximum of three months of benefits over a 36-month period, unless they work 20 hours or more per week (averaged monthly) or participate in and comply with requirements of a work program. Individuals who reside in certain geographic areas can qualify for an exception to this time limit under 7 C.F.R. § 273.24(f).
The Department has submitted a request to the U.S.D.A. – Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) to waive these work requirements for certain ABAWDs residing in geographic areas that have unemployment rates at or above 10% or have insufficient jobs for recipients residing in those areas. The geographic areas include 260 qualifying cities, towns, unorganized territories, townships, and reservations that qualify individually or as part of a federally defined labor market area. Pending U.S.D.A. – FNS approval and the adoption of this rule, ABAWDs residing in those areas will no longer have to meet the work requirements to receive SNAP effective retroactive to October 1, 2023. Retroactive rulemaking is permissible under 22 M.R.S. § 42(8) as this update provides a benefit to nearly 2,000 SNAP recipients who meet the ABAWD definition and does not adversely impact applicants, participants, beneficiaries, or providers.
This rule would implement the ABAWD Geographic Exemption Waiver pending approval by the U.S.D.A. Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) waiving the three-month time limit for residents of geographic areas in Maine that meet certain requirements outlined in 7 C.F.R. § 273.24(f). Maine’s Automated Client Eligibility System (ACES) will be programmed to not impose the three-month limit for ABAWDs residing in these areas for the duration of the waiver. Upon U.S.D.A. – FNS approval and the adoption of this rule, ABAWDs who reside in those areas will no longer have to meet the work requirements. This rule is expected to impact more than 2,000 ABAWDS currently enrolled or now eligible for SNAP benefits.
Office: Office for Family Independence