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SNAP FY 2023 Allocations of Discretionary Exemptions for ABAWDs

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Policy Memos
Training and Outreach
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PDF Icon Policy memo (311.66 KB)
DATE:April 19, 2023
SUBJECT:Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – Fiscal Year 2023 Allocations of Discretionary Exemptions for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents
TO:All SNAP State Agencies
All Regions

Section 6(o) of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (the Act) limits the amount of time able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) may participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to 3 months in any 36-month period, unless an individual fulfills certain work requirements or is otherwise exempt from the time limit. However, the Act allocates a number of monthly discretionary exemptions to the ABAWD time limit each fiscal year (FY), based on 12 percent of a state’s estimated number of covered individuals, as defined in section 6(o)(6)(A)(ii) of the Act.

This memorandum adjusts the total number of exemptions available to each state for FY 2023, as shown in the table attached. This includes increases in the number of exemptions available to states in which caseloads increased by more than 10 percent, as described in section 6(o)(6)(F) of the Act.

Please note that the totals do not account for any exemption usage in FY 2023 (those figures must be reported in final by states on the form FNS-583, due 45-days after the end of the FY). While states have great flexibility in applying discretionary exemptions, States must track and report the number of discretionary exemptions used each month on a quarterly basis to their respective FNS regional office via the FNS-583 form. In addition, discretionary exemptions must be properly documented in the case file prior to monthly quality control sample selections.

Special Considerations

As a reminder, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) temporarily and partially suspends the time limit for ABAWDs’ participation in SNAP from April 1, 2020, through the end of the month subsequent to the month in which the public health emergency declaration by the Secretary of Health and Human Services based on an outbreak of COVID-19 is lifted. As the Secretary announced, the public health emergency declaration will end on May 11, 2023, the suspension of the ABAWD time limit will end on June 30, 2023, and state agencies must begin assigning countable months starting July 1, 2023. During the suspension, if a state offers an ABAWD a slot in a work or workfare program that would allow the person to meet the ABAWD work requirement for a given month, including a SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) program under section 6(d)(4), the individual is still subject to the time-limit. Many states did not need to use any discretionary exemptions in FY 2023. For more information, please see the memo "SNAP – Families First Coronavirus Response Act and Impact on Time Limit for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs)."

FNS encourages state agencies to reference the memorandum “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Preparing for Reinstatement of the Time Limit for Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWDs),” which FNS initially issued on Sept. 21, 2021, and reissued on Feb. 10, 2023. This guidance provides important requirements for state agencies as they prepare for the reinstatement of the ABAWD time limit.

State agencies with questions should contact their respective regional office representatives. Regional offices should contact Catrina Kamau or Alison Conrad with any questions.


Kari Hardgrove
Catrina L. Kamau
Certification Policy Branch
Program Development Division


Page updated: November 14, 2023