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Statement by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on D.C. Circuit Court's Decision Regarding ABAWDs Rule

Press Release
Release No.
USDA No. 0055.21
Contact: FNS Press Team

WASHINGTON, March 24, 2021 — Statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding the D.C. Circuit Court's decision to allow USDA to withdraw its appeal on the previously vacated final rule, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Requirements for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (84 FR 66782).

"We are pleased to finally put to rest a policy that would have restricted the ability of states to provide nutrition assistance to able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) during times of high unemployment. The rule would have penalized individuals who were unable to find consistent income, when many low wage jobs have variable hours, and limited to no sick leave. Groups with typically higher unemployment, including rural Americans, Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and People of Color, and those with less than a high school education would have been disproportionally harmed by this cruel policy."


Under normal circumstances, adults who are age 18-49, able to work, and do not have dependents are not able to receive SNAP benefits for more than 3 months within a 3 year period unless they are working, enrolled in a work program, or participating in some combination of those two for 80 hours each month. The vacated rule limited states’ ability to request waivers of the time limit to certain restricted conditions. The time limit is currently suspended due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. USDA plans to publish a notice in the Federal Register to confirm its return to long-standing regulations that existed prior to the publishing of this rule.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

Page updated: November 06, 2023