SNAP (Food Stamps) for Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents

Authored By: Legal Services Alabama

SNAP for Able Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWDs)

What is SNAP?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) used to be known as the food stamp program. It was created and administered by the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service to help eligible low-income residents gain access to nutritional foods for a healthier lifestyle.

What is ABAWD?

Able-Bodies Adults without Dependents means a person between the ages of 18 and 49 who has no dependents and is not disabled.

More detailed information can be found at


Yes.  To get more than three months of food stamps in thirty-six months, you must either:

  • meet a work requirement or
  • be exempt from that requirement.

The time limit started January 1, 2016.

If you are exempt for part of a month (for example: turn 50 during a month), then you are exempt for the entire month.

If you are ineligible, other persons in your household may still get Food Stamps.

  • You can’t work.
  • You get disability benefits from Social Security or SSI.
  • You are homeless.
  • You are pregnant.
  • You take care of a child under 19 in your home.
  • You take care of a disabled person.
  • You are in a substance abuse treatment program.  Alcoholics Anonymous counts.
  • You are enrolled at least half time in a training program, school or community college.  Note that there are separate requirements for students to get food stamps.
  • You have weekly earnings of at least 30 times the minimum wage.
  • You receive unemployment compensation benefits.
  • You are applying for unemployment compensation.
  • You receive Refugee Cash Assistance.
  • You applied for both SSI and food stamps at the Social Security Office.

Most exemptions must be verified. If you request assistance, DHR must provide assistance in getting verification. 

You need to make sure that the food stamp office knows you are exempt.

Bring or send to your worker any proof that you are exempt.

  • If you have a letter or other paper from someone else, use that.
  • If you do not, try to get it.
  • If you cannot, give your worker your own statement explaining why you are exempt.

You have to work at least half-time or take part in a job training program. You can meet the work requirement with at least 80 hours per month of any combination of the following:

  • Work for pay;

  • Work for free housing or other in-kind benefits; or

  • Unpaid community service for a program doing public service in such fields as health, social service and day care. Many churches have programs that meet this requirement.

For example, if in a month you work 20 hours for pay, work 40 hours for free housing and volunteer with your church 20 hours, you will keep getting food stamps.

  • You turn 50 years old.
  • You become exempt for one of the reasons above.
  • You worked 80 hours in a 30-day period.
  • You spent 80 hours in a 30-day period in a job training program.
  • You spent a total of 80 hours in a 30-day period either working or taking part in a job training program.


Some individuals who have used their initial three months of eligibility can receive up to three additional months of eligibility, even if you do not meet one of the exemptions. If you have regained eligibility through work or employment or training activities then you may continue to receive SNAP for up to three consecutive months after again becoming unemployed even if you earlier used up your basic three months of benefits while out of work.

  • You can request a hearing within 90 days of the date of a notice.
  • You can call Legal Services right away at (866) 456-4995.


Reviewed March 11, 2016 offers legal information, not legal advice. We try hard to make sure this website accurately explains your rights and options. However, the site does not apply the law to your personal facts. For this sort of legal advice, you should call a lawyer. To apply for free legal services in Alabama, call the Legal Services Alabama office that is closest to where you live OR call Toll-Free 1-866-456-4995. You can also Apply Online.

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Last Review and Update: Mar 11, 2016
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