Who is exempt from the 3-month ABAWD time limit?

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus
Reviewed January 2018

Exempt means you do not have to meet the work rules. You are EXEMPT from the SNAP three-month time limit (ABAWD work rules) if: 

  • You are under age 18 or over 49 years old, 
  • You live in a geographic area of the state with high unemployment. DTA has identified 62 cities and towns that meet the high unemployment criteria for 2018 (see below) .   
  • You are disabled and receiving a disability-based benefit such as SSI, MassHealth as disabled, VA disability benefits or EAEDC cash assistance,
  • You are physically or mentally “unfit for work” – either permanently or temporarily – based on a statement from a health care provider,
  • You participate in a vocational rehabilitation program, a mental health program, or a drug or alcohol treatment program, or you are in a refugee training program run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement,
  • You are pregnant (any stage),
  • You are homeless (lacking a stable nighttime residence) or other criteria as established by DTA,
  • You live  in the same household with a child under 18, even if not related to you (you do not need to be responsible for care for the child),
  • You are responsible for the care of an incapacitated person or a child under 6, even if the incapacitated person or child does not live with you,
  • You receiving unemployment insurance or waiting for your unemployment claim to be approved,  
  • You work 30 hours per week or earn (at a job or through self-employment) at least $217.50 per week in gross (pre-tax) income ($217.50 is 30 times the current federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour) OR
  • You are a student enrolled in a high-school, vocational or post-secondary educational program or college and meet the student rules. See What if I am a college student? on which college students are considered eligible for SNAP.

106 C.M.R. § 362.320 (B)

Go to Mass.gov for a list of cities and towns that are currently exempt for 2017

Are there cities and towns where the 3 month rule does not apply to me? 

DTA has posted a complete list of cities and towns that are “waived” from the 3-month time limit for 2018. There are 62 cities and towns that are “waived” during 2018 because of high unemployment. Go to Mass.gov to see the list of cities and towns

Many areas of the state that were exempt in 2016 and 2017 are no longer exempt, such as Attleboro, Brockton, Gloucester, Hyannis, Lowell, Southbridge, large parts of Berkshire and Hamden County and many more. However, you can still volunteer to get SNAP ET services through SNAP Path to Work. See Question 65.

How do I prove to DTA I am exempt from the ABAWD work rules?​

DTA will automatically know about some exemptions (for example, your age or if you live in a waived area). If you are getting notices from DTA that say you need to meet the ABAWD work rules, but you think you are exempt, there are a few ways to show DTA you are exempt:

  1. If you can’t work because you have a mental or physical impairment, DTA has a one-page form you can bring to a medical provider.  It can be signed by a wide range of medical providers, licensed social workers, counselors or directors of substance abuse or mental health programs. 
  2. If you are homeless, DTA has a one page homeless screening form. Fill this out if you do not have a stable night time residence or show that you meet other factors that make you exempt. You can also talk to DTA over the phone. Call DTA and ask them to talk to you about the homeless screening for ABAWDs. 
  3. If you are claiming another exemption, DTA has a screening form that lists the exemptions and tells you what verifications to send in to show to DTA you are exempt. 

Advocacy Reminders:

  • For more resources, including a checklist of exemptions, see MLRI’s webpage. You can find copies of all the forms and information you need. As updates become available about ABAWDs we will post them at this webpage.

DTA Policy Guidance:

Online Guide Sections:

Show DTA Policy Guidance

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