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Fixed Statewide 36-Month Clock Starts January 1, 2017


State Option Will Benefit Both Clients and Administrators

12.21.2016 The California Department of Social Services CalFresh Branch recently announced via All County Information Notice that the 36-month fixed statewide clock will start January 1, 2017; that is one full year prior to the anticipated expiration of the statewide waiver of the three-month CalFresh time limit for unemployed adults without minor children.

States have the option of how to track the 36-month period. Prior to receiving a statewide waiver of the time limit, California used an "Individual 36-month Clock" meaning the 36-month period started the first full month a person with ABAWD status received benefits. The change to a fixed statewide clock means that administrators will track the same 36-month period (January 1, 2017 — December 31, 2019) for all ABAWDs, regardless of when they entered the program or gained ABAWD status.

The state is to be commended for selecting the option most beneficial to participants and administrators. Using the fixed statewide clock eases some of the administrative burden state and county workers face when implementing the complex ABAWD rules. It is also beneficial to clients, as ABAWDs will only be subject to the time limit for 24 months of of the initial 36-month period, since the statewide waiver remains in effect for the duration of 2017. Also, ABAWDs who enroll in CalFresh later in the 36-month period will have an even shorter duration subject to the time limit before regaining three months of eligibility when the clock "restarts" on January 1, 2020.

Read the All County Information Notice PDF


The three-month CalFresh time limit for unemployed, childless adults, also known as "able-bodied adults without dependents" (ABAWDs), will go back into effect January 1, 2018 in certain California counties, and will likely continue to affect new areas beyond 2018.

This is a federal law that was waived in the state for many years due to high unemployment. Individuals considered "ABAWDs" may only receive CalFresh benefits for a total of three full months within a 36-month period, unless the person meets an exemption or complies with certain work requirements.

Stay up to date on the return of the time limit on CFPA's ABAWD Time Limit page. link

Learn more about the return of the three-month time limit from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. PDF

Questions? Contact Jared Call at 213.482.8200 ext. 201