The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has guidance regading percentage exemptions from the Able-bodied Adults Without Dependants (ABAWD) work rules and time limit for CalFresh and the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Federal law gives each state a number of exemptions from the ABAWD rules equal to 12 percent of the state’s annual caseload. These percentage exceptions allow counties to extend CalFresh eligibility to ABAWDs who would otherwise be ineligible. Each percentage exception gives one full month of eligibility to one individual subject to the ABAWD time limit.
In general, CFAP recipients are treated the same as individual receiving CalFresh, including application of the ABAWD rules. Individuals at risk of losing CFAP benefits because of the ABAWD time limit may receive a state-funded percentage exemption.
Any ABAWD who is temporarily excused from meeting work requirements under a percentage exemption remains subject to the ABAWD time limit rules and must meet work requirements, qualify for an exemption, or reside in an area where the ABAWD requirements are waived to continue receiving CalFresh or CFAP after their percentage exemption expires.
California has a three step process before applying a percentage exemption. First, counties must screen for an exemption for the ABAWD time limit at application, period report and recertification using information in the case record and individualized assessments. Second, counties should engage ABAWDs to support them in finding additional work and/or participating in qualifying work activities, including referral to local workforce partners, volunteer activities or other training or education programs. Third, the county can provide a percentage exemption if the individual meets additional criteria as determined by the county.
The counties implementing the ABAWD time limit between September 1, 2018 and August 31, 2019 were San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara. Any CFAP percentage exceptions remaining after August 31, 2019 will be recouped and redistributed among all counties implementing the ABAWD time limit effective September 1, 2019. (ACL 19-60, July 2, 2019.)