USDA Rescinds Harmful Rule on ABAWD Time Limits

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Published on Jul 1, 2021 in Adults, CalFresh, Federal Advocacy

On June 30, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rescinded a harmful 2019 rule titled “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Requirements for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents. The Trump Administration rule, if implemented, would have resulted in over 700,000 households losing access to SNAP (CalFresh in CA).

Yesterday’s action follows the October 18, 2020 decision in District of Columbia, et al., v. United States Department of Agriculture, et al., No. 20-cv-00119-BAH (D.D.C. 2020), in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to vacate the 2019 Final Rule.

What this means

We are pleased that USDA’s action means the ABAWD time limit rules will not become even more harsh. Instead, time limits will remain in effect as they have been since 1996. Those SNAP time limits have always been both punitive and counterproductive. They unfairly cut people off from vital food assistance while doing nothing to improve employment outcomes

The time limit is currently waived in all 58 California counties through June 30, 2022. Prior to that date, the state will submit a new annual waiver request to USDA to continue to waive the time limit in areas with elevated unemployment. Depending on the unemployment rate, specific areas of the state (i.e. counties) could be forced to reimplement CalFresh time limits beginning July 1, 2022. That could cause unemployed childless adults to lose vital food assistance solely because they can’t find enough work hours or can’t successfully navigate complicated bureaucratic hurdles.

What’s next?

Nourish California and our state and federal anti-hunger partners will continue to educate policymakers about the need to repeal the federal rule entirely. Food for the hungry shouldn’t have a time limit.

We will also continue to work with state and county administrators to ensure that if time limit rules are implemented in the future it is done in a way that prioritizes keeping clients connected to CalFresh benefits.

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