Changes to CalFresh Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents time limit policy

California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding changes to the CalFresh Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD) time limit policy.  These changes implement the federal Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023.

Under existing policy, CalFresh recipients age 18 to 49 who are able bodied, do not have dependent children, and do not meet the criteria for an exemption are limited to three months of benefits in a 36 month period unless the recipient meets the ABAWD work requirement, qualifies for an additional three months of benefits, receives a discretionary exemption, or lives in a county or an area that has a waiver.  Current federal law allows discretionary exemptions for 12 percent of the state annual CalFresh caseload.

The Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 increases the age of those subject to the ABAWD rules to 50 effective September 1, 2023, 52 effective October 1, 2023, and 54 effective October 1, 2024.

The Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 also adds exemptions for individuals experiencing homelessness, veterans, and foster youth age 24 or younger who were in foster care on their 18th birthday.  The new exemptions are effective September 1, 2023.

The Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 reduces the number of discretionary from 12 percent of the caseload, to eight percent of the caseload.

Beginning September 1, 2023, the new exemptions must be applied at initial certification, recertification, and mid-period if a voluntary reports information that qualifies for one of the new exemptions.  Counties must screen for and document ABAWD time limit exemptions in the case file.

Verification of ABAWD exemptions is only required when information is questionable.  The county must support households in obtaining verification and must accept any reasonable documentary evidence provided by the household.

California currently has a statewide ABAWD time limit waiver through October 31, 2024.  However, counties must continue to identify ABAWDs, screen for exemptions, inform households of the ABAWD rules, provide the CalFresh Informational Notice, and track ABAWD data.  (ACL 23-80, September 21, 2023.)