This morning, the USDA announced their Final Rule regarding ABAWDs (Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents). The Food Bank and our partners have been watching this process closely and have worked to oppose the implementation of this rule due to the huge impact we expect it to have not only in our service area, but nationwide.
This is a developing situation and we are continuing to monitor it. As we get more concrete details we will communicate them to you.
Here is what we know now:
- States can continue to request FNS’s approval to waive the ABAWD time limit for one or more geographic areas within their State and may request to start such waivers at any point in the fiscal year.
- States will no longer have the flexibility to define their own waiver area(s).The waiver area is strictly defined as an area considered a Labor Market Area by Department of Labor, which is not necessarily restricted by country or city lines.
- In order to be approved for a waiver, the Labor Market Area the State has applied for must fall into either of these two criteria:
- 12-month average unemployment rate over 10%
- 24 month average unemployment rate of 20% or more above the national unemployment rate
- This rule will go into effect April 1, 2020 – any existing waivers that states have applied for and been given will no longer be in effect after the implementation of this new rule.
- Cook County will be implementing their ABAWD time limits in January.
There are still a lot of unknowns, and we are not 100% sure how this will impact our service area, but we believe it is safe to say that a large majority, if not our entire service area, is at-risk of losing their waivers. That means that people in our 13-county area are at-risk of losing their SNAP benefits.
Northern Illinois Food Bank is no stranger to this situation. In 2018, DuPage County lost its ABAWD waiver. We will be revisiting the strategies we employed there and are hopeful that we will be a strong leader is reaching our neighbors during this time of change. We are already looking to update existing materials to reflect these changes so we can raise awareness in our communities.
Below are some additional documents that outline the situation and answer some questions we may have at the time. Again, this situation is still developing and we will continue to share information as we collect it. If you have any questions, always feel free to reach out to our Advocacy Team.