Three New Counties Excluded from 2019 CalFresh ABAWD Time Limit Waiver Request


The California Department of Social Services CalFresh Branch has submitted a new request to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to continue to waive the three-month CalFresh time limit for unemployed adults without minor children in most California counties. As a reminder, the statewide waiver expired August 31, 2018, and beginning September 1, three counties (San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara) lost the waiver due to their lower unemployment rate, and reimplemented the time-limit rules.

The state's new waiver request excludes all but six counties from the ABAWD three-month time limit for September 1, 2019 through August 31, 2020Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, Santa Clara, and San Mateo. CDSS anticipates that this waiver request will be approved, since it is formula driven and non-discretionary, but it is unclear when that might happen, as the previous (September 2018) waiver was not approved until July 2018. Once approved, this will mean in September 2019 three new California counties will begin implementing the ABAWD time limits (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin), along with the three that began implementing in September 2018 (San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo).

Read the State's waiver request to USDA FNS. PDF

The state is to be commended for requesting this waiver extension, which will continue to waive the time limit for 94 percent of CalFresh participants who would otherwise be subject to the harsh and punitive three-month time limit. It will also provide additional time to prepare and train program administrators in other counties in the implementation of the complex ABAWD time-limit rules in order to mitigate loss of benefits for CalFresh recipients.


The three-month CalFresh time limit for unemployed, childless adults, also known as "able-bodied adults without dependents" (ABAWDs), is a federal law that was waived in the state for many years due to high unemployment. Individuals considered to have ABAWD status 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 harsh "work requirements." The rule went back into effect September 1, 2018 in three California counties, and will likely continue to affect new areas as unemployment continues to decline across the state.

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

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

Questions? Contact Jared Call at 213.482.8200 ext. 201