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CalFresh Time Limit for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents 



Important Information About the CalFresh Time Limit

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CalFresh time limit has been temporarily suspended statewide beginning April 1, 2020 until further notice.  During this time, ABAWDs will not be required to meet the work requirement to keep receiving CalFresh.  For more information on the COVID-19 virus visit www.covid19.ca.gov.


Welcome to the CalFresh Time Limit for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD) webpage.  This page outlines general information about the CalFresh time limit for ABAWDs in California. 

About the CalFresh Time Limit

The CalFresh time limit is a federal requirement.  People who are considered to be ABAWDs are limited to three full months of CalFresh benefits every 36-months (3 years) beginning January 1, 2020.  ABAWDs may receive benefits for longer than three months if they are working, excused from the time limit, or are living in an area that is waived from the time limit. 

Not all counties in California have a time limit.  Some counties are waived from the CalFresh time limit rule if the county meets certain criteria – like having a high unemployment rate.  Counties that do not meet the criteria to be waived must have the time limit rule in place.

Who is considered an ABAWD for CalFresh?

A person is considered an ABAWD if they are between the ages of 18 through 49 and are not:

  • Disabled; or
  • Living with a child under the age of 18 in their CalFresh household.

What are the special requirements for ABAWDs?

People who are ABAWDs must do certain work-related activities to remain eligible for CalFresh.  They must be working or doing approved work activities for at least 80 hours per month.  This includes paid work, unpaid work, and in-kind work.  In-kind work is working in exchange for a service, such as working off rent.  The county can help connect ABAWDs with local work opportunities in the area in order to meet the work requirement.

CalFresh Time Limit Counties in California*

*ALERT – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CalFresh time limit has been temporarily suspended statewide.

Effective July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021 the CalFresh time limit rule is waived in all California counties.  This means no ABAWDs living in California will have to meet the work requirement to keep receiving CalFresh benefits.  ABAWDs who have lost their CalFresh benefits may reapply and continue to receive CalFresh if otherwise eligible.

Latest News

Statewide ABAWD Time Limit Waiver Approved

The USDA FNS has approved California’s statewide ABAWD time limit waiver request effective July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.  The statewide waiver was approved based on the Department of Labor's Unemployment Trigger Notice 2020-17, effective May 10, 2020, which identified California as qualifying for extended unemployment benefits.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201)

The President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) on March 18, 2020.  This bill provides expanded food assistance to states in response to the COVID-19 pandemic including temporarily suspending the time limit for ABAWDs nationally until the emergency declaration has been lifted.

Federal Judge Blocks the Final Rule Released by USDA

The USDA released the Final Rule on the time limit for ABAWDs on December 5, 2019.  The text of the Final Rule is available at the Federal Register – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Requirements for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents. The Final Rule made changes to the criteria in which states may be approved for waivers of the time limit as well as limits carryover of ABAWD discretionary exemptions.

On March 13, 2020, Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell issued a preliminary injunction which temporarily blocks implementation of the time limit waiver changes established in the Final Rule.  The CDSS is monitoring this legal action closely and will continue to update this webpage as new information is received.