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SNAP Time Limit on ABAWDs starting April 1st - What you can to do help your SNAP-less clients

ABAWD Time Limit Hitting in April for first wave of individuals!

Early next week, DTA will start sending out SNAP closing notices to individuals who have not claimed an exemption, have reached their 3 month time limit and do not have any activity that qualifies them for continued SNAP benefits. These are the individuals age 18 through 49 without disabilities, not living with children and for whom DTA does not have information about possible exemptions.

Non-exempt ABAWDS not meeting the work requirements will not get SNAP on their EBT cards in April. We expect roughly 10,000 to 12,000 individuals may receive these SNAP closing notices in the next two weeks, but we do not have a firm number as we send this email. Many clients have received the attached "strike" notices for each month of the 3 months used up. And next week, they will start receiving actual SNAP case closing notices.

MLRI and DTA have posted LOTS of information on the ABAWD 3 month time limit:

  • MLRI's info is here:  /ABAWD
  • DTA's info is here: https://www.mass.gov/snap-work-rules
  • DTA is also planning a WEBINAR soon to update stakeholders on the ABAWD time limit. We will share details as soon as known.

What you can do for individuals who will be losing SNAP benefits?

Immediately screen your clients for possible exemptions including:

  • if any disability or incapacity that reduces their ability to work. Give the client a medical report form to bring to their health care provider immediately.
  • if your client is homeless or does not have a stable nighttime residence. Have them fill out the homeless exemption form or call DTA.
  • if your client lives in a "waived" area not subject to the 3 month limit.
  • if your client is a victim of domestic violence and in a DV shelter or other safe home, tell DTA.
  • if your client is now living with any children under age 18, even if not their own child, or is in school or any training program.
  • if your client is now working, at least 20 hours a week or has a pending application for Unemployment Insurance.
  • Ask about any and all  possible exemptions. See the MLRI checklist€ for action steps. 
  • FILE AN APPEAL!  If the ABAWD files an appeal of the termination of benefits before the effective date of action, the SNAP benefits should continue pending the appeal (unless the end of the 3 month period coincides with the end of the SNAP certification period). If your client believes he or she is exempt - but does not have proofs immediately available - the timely appeal will protect the benefits until a hearing decision is rendered. Your client may have "good cause" for not being able to comply.

What is good cause for not meeting the ABAWD work requirements?

If your client would have met the requirements but could not because of a good cause reason - such as transportation problems, a household emergency, or illness - DTA should not count the month against the client. The client does need to give DTA information and, in some cases, verification of the good cause reason.

For example: John Smith found a part time job and started working February 1. He could only work the first two weeks of February because he got the flu and had to miss work,but he returned to work on Feb 15th. If he shows DTA he had the flu (for ex, a signed self-declaration) and he is back to work, DTA should not count February as one of his 3 months.

Can an ABAWD get back "retroactive" exemptions to protect their 3 month bucket of benefits?

YES. If DTA gets info the ABAWD was otherwise exempt, DTA can recode the months as exempt.  For example, if your shows up with a SNAP termination letter but it turns out he or she has a chronic illness or a disability - or has been homeless for some time or has met some other exemption for a few months - be sure to document this for DTA! That way the individual can get the past 3 months €œrecoded as exempt so that the client still has 3 SNAP months remaining for a future use when no longer exempt. This may seem like a silly exercise to seek retro verification, but it is important!

For example: Jane Doe has had a chronic medical condition since last November due to a car accident, which has reduced her ability to work full time.  She asks her nurse practitioner to add a note to the medical report stating the onset of the illness.  If Jane provides proof of the onset, DTA can recode€ the SNAP months she already used so that she can protect her 3 months of SNAP for future use when she is no longer disabled.

What if your ABAWD client wants to volunteer somewhere to retain his or her benefits?

DTA is keeping a running list of community organizations that may be able to offer a volunteer activity. Note, they do not have an extensive list. If your organization is able to offer a volunteer activity, let DTA know. If your organization cannot take volunteers because your agency is subject to the CORI screening rules (criminal offender record checks) and your organization cannot afford the EOPS fees for CORI checks, please let MLRI know. We would like to hear from organizations where the CORI fee is a barrier to offering a volunteer placement and explore with the state whether such fees could be waived.

And feel free to email or call MLRI if questions or you need help trouble shooting a case. pbaker@mlri.org , vnegus@mlri.org

Upcoming Boston SNAP Coalition Meeting: March 22nd, 10 - 12 AM.

At St Francis House in Boston. More details and agenda to follow. ABAWDs high on the agenda!

File Attachment: 
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PDF icon DTA ABAWD Sample Strike 2 Notice .PDF255.77 KB