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Best Practices and Resources for Informing Households of ABAWD Rules

EO Guidance Document #
Resource type
Policy Memos
Guidance Documents
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PDF Icon Policy Memo (243.93 KB)
DATE: May 25, 2018
SUBJECT: SNAP - Best Practices and Resources for Informing Households of ABA WD Rules
TO: Regional Directors
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
All Regions

This memorandum provides best practices and resources to help state agencies effectively inform Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households of the requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD) and to enrich training for eligibility workers. Since ABAWD policy is complex, states should provide clients with accurate and understandable information in accessible locations ( e.g., waiting rooms, websites, or partner organizations). Easily understood resources that advise the client how to take appropriate action will benefit the state and clients by minimizing the number of times a household exits and re-enters the program, reducing the chance for errors, and ensuring eligible households receive the benefits to which they are entitled.

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has found that states employing the following strategies are successful in informing applicants and clients regarding ABAWD policies:

Equip eligibility workers with the tools and resources they need.
Effective training for staff on ABAWD policy is essential. Additionally, a script, checklist, or other templates can be useful tools for eligibility workers to help ensure that they address ABAWD rules and screen clients for exemptions. These might include local phone numbers and contact information for programs offered through community colleges, local charitable organizations seeking volunteers, job placement assistance, and local workforce centers.

Explain complex policies in writing for clients. As part of informing applicants and clients of rights and responsibilities, States should leverage written notices effectively. Although not explicitly required by regulation, states should consider opportunities to clearly explain ABAWD policies in writing (e.g,, as part of the Notice of Eligibility, Notice of Work Registration, etc.). States should also consider including an addendum to the periodic report form that explains to ABAWDs and potential ABAWDs the requirements associated with reporting, screening, exemptions, and compliance. FNS also strongly encourages states to provide an additional written notice to all ABAWDs at least 30 days prior to the expiration of an ABAWD time limit waiver.

Post information on websites and in waiting rooms. States can provide ABAWD policies and information on their public websites, posters in local offices, or televisions in waiting rooms. This practice is particularly useful in anticipation of the time limit being reintroduced in a particular area where it had been waived previously.

Leverage partnerships. Provide partner organizations -such as community-based organizations, food banks, and employment and training (E&T) providers -with one-pagers or informational pamphlets. (Printable handouts are available on the FNS website. See "Additional Resources" below.) This is particularly useful in anticipation of time limits being reintroduced in a particular area.

With this memorandum, FNS is including three sample documents to assist states:

  1. How to use plain language to inform clients about ABAWD policy and their rights and responsibilities as an ABAWD.
  2. Frequently asked questions and answers that could be used by different audiences, e.g., ABAWDs, community partners, local government agencies, etc; and
  3. Reference information that could help serve as a desk or training tool for caseworkers in administering ABAWD policy.

States may use this content to enhance existing notices or to develop additional information or training content specific to the ABAWD population. Please note that these attachments are not intended to substitute any existing required notices ( e.g., the notice of eligibility, the notice of work registration).

There are additional resources that can help states make their process to educate and inform staff and clients as effective and efficient as possible:

  • FNS ABAWD Public Website and Printable Handouts. The FNS public website includes content describing ABAWD policy as well as one-page Frequently Asked Questions regarding the ABAWD time limit and work requirements that are designed to be printed and handed to clients . (see the second item under the heading, "Where can I find out more?"). snap/able-bodied-adults-without-dependents-abawds
  • Guide to Improving Notices of Adverse Action (NOAAs). Developed by plain language experts, this guide provides approachable strategies, samples, and tools to help states make their client notices more effective. Although the guide's focus is NOAAs, the principles and strategies can be applied to notices and client information more broadly.
  • Guide to Serving ABAWDs Subject to Time-Limited Participation. Although it does not address notices in detail, this guide provides broad policy guidance to serving ABAWDs subject to the time limit. In conjunction with the ABAWD Questions and Answers available on FNS' public ABAWD page, it enumerates the rights and responsibilities of clients and state agencies.

State agencies should contact their respective FNS regional offices with any questions.

Lizbeth Silbermann
Program Development Division


Page updated: March 24, 2022

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.