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SNAP - ABAWD Discretionary Exemptions Totals for FY 2021

EO Guidance Document #
Resource type
Policy Memos
Guidance Documents
Resource Materials
DATE: May 11, 2021
SUBJECT: SNAP - ABAWD Discretionary Exemptions Totals for FY 2021
TO: All Regional Directors
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

This memorandum adjusts the total number of exemptions available to each state for FY 2021, as shown in the table on the next page. 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 2021 (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. If a state offers an ABAWD a slot in a work or workfare program, including a SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) program under section 6(d)(4), the individual is still subject to the time-limit. Therefore, many states did not need to use any discretionary exemptions during the third and fourth quarters of FY 2020. 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).

On Oct. 18, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the final rule, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Requirements for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (84 FR 66782), which would have revised the carryover of discretionary exemptions. The Department is pursuing publication of a final rule that will restore regulatory language at 7 CFR 273.24 to the language that existed prior to the 2019 final rule. Since the 2019 final rule is no longer in effect, states may carry over unused discretionary exemptions from previous fiscal years.

State agencies with questions should contact their respective regional office representatives.

Arpan Dasgupta
Branch Chief
Certification Policy Branch
Program Development Division
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)


Page updated: April 05, 2023

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.