Rule One: Limits on Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents

Currently, SNAP includes restrictive work requirements. The rules limit a population defined as “Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs)” from accessing SNAP benefits for more than three months in three years unless they can document at least 20 hours of work or approved job training per week.

In areas with high unemployment, states are able to have those work requirements waived, but a Trump Administration rule, proposed in early 2019, would have tightened the criteria for a waiver and stripped benefits from more than 700,000 adults. (Those estimates are from before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to negatively impact economies across the country to varying degrees at different times as virus hotspots swell and recede.)

The rule was finalized in December of 2019, but stalled by legislation and legal challenges; despite the lawsuits brought by attorneys general in multiple states, rulings by a federal judge, and provisions in the Families First Coronavirus Act, the USDA made it clear they would continue to fight for its enactment.

On October 18, 2020, the rule was struck down in a summary judgement as “arbitrary and capricious.” The USDA has not yet commented on the ruling.