Basic Food Work Requirements - ABAWDs (Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents)
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Basic Food Work Requirements - ABAWDs (Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents)


Revised October 18, 2013



Purpose:

WAC 388-444-0030Do I have to work to be eligible for Basic Food benefits if I am an able-bodied adult without dependents (ABAWD)?
WAC 388-444-0035Who is exempt from ABAWD work requirements?
WAC 388-444-0040Can I volunteer for an unpaid work program in order to meet the work requirements under WAC 388-444-0030?
WAC 388-444-0045How does an ABAWD regain eligibility for Basic Food after being closed for the three-month limit?

WAC 388-444-0030

WAC 388-444-0030

Effective October 1, 2013

WAC 388-444-0030 Do I have to work to be eligible for Basic Food benefits if I am an able-bodied adult without dependents (ABAWD)?

1.    An able-bodied adult without dependents (ABAWD) is a person who:

a.    Is physically and mentally able to work;

b.    Is age eighteen through forty-nine; and

c.    Has no child in the household.

 

2.    If you are an ABAWD, you must participate in employment and training activities under subsection (4) unless you are exempt from ABAWD requirements under WAC 388-444-0035.

 

3.    Nonexempt ABAWDs who fail to participate may continue to receive food assistance until September 30, 2014.

 

4.    Beginning October 1, 2014, an ABAWD is not eligible to receive food assistance for more than three full months in a thirty-six month period, except as provided in WAC 388-444-0035, unless that person: 

a.    Is exempt from ABAWD requirements under WAC 388-444-0035;

b.    Works at least twenty hours a week averaged monthly;

c.    Participates in on the job training (OJT), which may include paid work and classroom training time, for at least twenty hours a week;

d.    Participates in an unpaid work program as provided in WAC 388-444-0040; or

e.    Participates in and meets the requirements of one of the following work programs:

                                      i.        The Job Training Partnership act (JTPA);

                                    ii.        Section 236 of the Trade Act of 1974; or

                                   iii.        A state-approved employment and training program.

This is a reprint of the official rule as published by the Office of the Code Reviser. If there are previous versions of this rule, they can be found using the Legislative Search page.

CLARIFYING INFORMATION

  1. Work means providing a paid service to an employer.
  2. The wage offered should not be less than the state minimum wage or in-kind goods or service of equal value.
  3. Self-employed persons must work 20 hours or more per week (averaged monthly or 80 hours per month) to meet the ABAWD work requirement.
  4. Other programs that clients can participate in to meet ABAWD participation requirements are:
    1. Washington Service Corps/AMERICORPS;
    2. Corrections Clearinghouse operates state-wide;
    3. NAFTA Transitional Adjustment Assistance Programs;
    4. Seattle Jobs Initiatives (SJI);
    5. Refugee Pathway to Self-Sufficiency Program for Refugee cash assistance (RCA) clients;
    6. The Matching Grant Program for newly-arrived refugees or similarly classified immigrants; and
    7. Workfare or other employment and training programs.
  5. For more information about the Matching Grant Program for refugees, see WAC 388-466-0120, Clarifying Information #4.

36-Month Period

The new 36-month time limit period began January 1, 2012 and ends December 31, 2014. Another 36-month period will begin January 1, 2015.

Even though the current 36-month period is in effect, we do not count any month before October 2014 against an ABAWD's three-month time limit. 

 


NOTE: ABAWDs and households that contain ABAWDs receive a certification period as described under WAC 388-416-0005, but they cannot receive more than three full months of benefits without meeting the ABAWD work requirements.

WORKER RESPONSIBILITIES

When an ABAWD has received benefits in a nonexempt area of another state, those benefits count against the three-month limit. If you learn that an ABAWD has received benefits in a non-exempt area of another state:

  • Verify with that state the number of months the ABAWD has received benefits without participating in work requirements; and
  • Document the information.

We can rely on the statement of another state agency for information on ABAWD months of participation.  If we act on incorrect information on non-participating ABAWD months from another state, this will not result in a payment error.


WAC 388-444-0035

WAC 388-444-0035

Effective December 18, 2010

WAC 388-444-0035 Who is exempt from ABAWD work requirements?

Some persons receiving Basic Food are exempt from ABAWD work requirements.  You are exempt from the ABAWD requirements under WAC 388-444-0030  if you are:

 

  1. Under eighteen or fifty years of age or older; 
  2. Determined to be physically or mentally unable to work;
  3. A member of a household with responsibility for a person who is incapacitated;
  4. An adult in a household that has a member who is under the age of eighteen, even if the child is not eligible for Basic Food;
  5. Pregnant;
  6. Living in an area approved as exempt by the U.S. Department of Agriculture;
  7. Complying with the work requirements of an employment and training program under temporary assistance for needy families (TANF);
  8. Applying for or receiving unemployment compensation;
  9. A student enrolled at least half time as defined by the institution in:
    1. Any accredited school;
    2. Training program; or
    3. Institution of higher education.  A student enrolled in higher education must meet the requirements under WAC 388-482-0005 in order to be eligible for Basic Food.
  1. Participating in a chemical dependency treatment and rehabilitation program;
  2. Employed a minimum of thirty hours per week or receiving weekly earnings which equal the minimum hourly rate multiplied by thirty hours;
  3. Eligible for one of the annual federal-approved exemption slots under the fifteen percent exemption rule.

This is a reprint of the official rule as published by the Office of the Code Reviser. If there are previous versions of this rule, they can be found using the Legislative Search page.

CLARIFYING INFORMATION

1.    All adults in a household with a member under age 18 are exempt from the ABAWD provisions, regardless of the adult’s responsibility for the care of the child.

2.    Only the individual(s) with responsibility for a person determined to be incapacitated is exempt from the ABAWD provisions; not the entire household.

3.    Personal exemptions apply in both exempt and non-exempt areas.


NOTE: See Appendix I for a complete list of counties and other areas that are exempt from ABAWD requirements.

4.    The priority for an exemption is:

a.    First, any personal exemption the ABAWD may have, even if the person currently lives in an exempt area. These include:

                                                i.        "CA" - Caretaker;

                                               ii.        "DR" - Drug/Alcohol Treatment;

                                              iii.        "EM" - Employed at least 30 hours per week;

                                              iv.        "FD" - Physically or Mentally Unfit for Employment;

                                               v.        "PR" – Pregnancy; and

                                              vi.        “ST” - Student.

b.    If the ABAWD does not have a personal exemption and live in a USDA waiver exempt area, use the "EA" exempt reason code.

c.    ABAWDs living in Snohomish county must be coded as AB with a Work Status code of SW on the ACES WORK screen until September 30, 2009. ABAWDs living within the Tulalip Reservation in Snohomish County are exempt by USDA waiver and must be coded with the "EA" code effective October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2011.

5.    RCA participants in the Self-Sufficiency Program are considered students in the program.  The number of participant hours is determined by the program.  The Refugee Social Service Specialist must develop a Personal Employment Plan (PEP) with the client.

6.    Clients who are not exempt must register for work regardless of where they live. Clients living in:

 

An exempt area: A non-exempt area:
  • Are not required to meet ABAWD work requirements while they live in an exempt area.

  • Must meet ABAWD requirements to stay eligible for Basic Food.


Moving Between Non-Exempt and Exempt Areas

  1. If an ABAWD moves to an exempt area, the person becomes exempt from ABAWD work requirements.
  2. If an ABAWD moves from an exempt to a non-exempt area during the 36-month period, they must meet ABAWD work requirements or have a personal exemption from ABAWD requirements. The three-month period starts with the first full month of benefits.
  3. If a client has previously used months during the same 36-month period, those months of non-participation still count toward the three-month limit.
    • Moving between exempt and non-exempt areas does not restart the 3-out-of-36 month clock.
    • The months stop or start based on the exemption for the area where the person now lives.
  4. If an ABAWD loses eligibility for Basic Food due to the three-month limit and later moves to an exempt area, they are eligible to receive Basic Food while living in any exempt area.

WORKER RESPONSIBILITIES

Verifying a Personal Exemption

  1. Accept a client's statement of employment status or job availability unless it is questionable.
  2. To verify questionable information have the client provide:
    1. Proof of the claimed exemption; or
    2. An acceptable collateral source who we can contact for further verification.
  3. If a client claims to be physically or mentally unable to work, verify the claim when questionable by:
    1. Proof of permanent disability benefits issued by a public or private source; or
    2. A statement from a doctor, licensed or certified psychologist, nurse, nurse practitioner, designated representative in a doctor's office, or any other medical personnel that is appropriate.
  4. If the client is not able to verify their claim for an exemption, make a decision using the available information that is in the client's case file. Document your decision on the exemption.
  5. If a client is sent for a ABD determination, the client is exempt from ABAWD requirements until the determination is made. If the client is denied ABD:
    1. Review the reason for denial.  Even though the client may not be eligible for ABD, the client may still be eligible for an exemption.
    2. If the client is not eligible for an exemption they are required to participate in work requirements.  Send a notice to the client giving 10 days advance notice that they must participate.  Participation is required the first of the month following the end of the 10-day advance notice.

 


EXAMPLE

On March 14th, you review a person's denial for ABD and determine that the person is an ABAWD who does not qualify for the FD exemption. You send them a letter on March 15th to inform them that they must meet ABAWD work requirements to remain eligible for Basic Food. Since the letter provides at least 10 days notice before the beginning of the next full month, you tell them in the letter that they must start meeting the work requirements on April 1st.


WAC 388-444-0040

WAC 388-444-0040

Effective December 18, 2010

WAC 388-444-0040 Can I volunteer for an unpaid work program in order to meet the work requirements under WAC 388-444-0030?

The department makes unpaid work programs available for persons who need to meet work requirements under WAC 388-444-0030.

  1. The following are considered unpaid work programs: 
    1. Workfare, which includes:
      1. Thirty days of job search activities in the first month beginning with the first day of application or sixteen hours of volunteer work with a public or private nonprofit agency; and
      2. In subsequent months, sixteen hours per month of volunteer work with a public or private nonprofit agency allows you to remain eligible for Basic Food benefits.
      3. Workfare does not include enforced community service or for paying fines or debts due to legal problems.
    2. Work experience (WEX) which provides supervised, unpaid work for at least twenty hours a week.   WEX is intended to improve a person’s work skills and make them more competitive in the job market. WEX must be for a nonprofit organization, government agency, or tribal entity.  
  2. We may not require you to participate more than one hundred twenty (120) hours per month in an unpaid-work program, paid work, or a combination of activities.  ABAWDs may volunteer to participate in activities beyond one hundred twenty (120) hours per month.
  3. The department may pay for some of the costs for you to participate in work programs. We set the standards for the amount we will pay for these expenses. 

This is a reprint of the official rule as published by the Office of the Code Reviser. If there are previous versions of this rule, they can be found using the Legislative Search page.

CLARIFYING INFORMATION

  1. Workfare is available to non-exempt ABAWDs only. The activity is not available to non-ABAWDs since ABAWDs are limited to only three months of benefits without participating in work, job search, or a work program.
  2. ABAWDs can combine work and work programs to fulfill the 20 hour per week requirement.
  3. Determine if the ABAWD has good cause for not being able to work the required hours to be exempt.  Good cause may include but is not limited to:
    1. Illness;
    2. Illness of another household member that requires the help of the ABAWD;
    3. A household emergency; or
    4. Unavailability of transportation.

ABAWD Work Programs

Workfare includes unpaid work in the community and participation in a BF E&T work program.

  1. Self-directed unpaid work in the community - ABAWDS can meet their work requirement by performing 16 hours a month of volunteer work for a non-profit organization.
    1. Workfare is unpaid work performed by an ABAWD for a public or private non-profit organization.
    2. An ABAWD may volunteer at any non-profit agency that agrees to provide volunteer work opportunities for ABAWDS to meet their work requirements.
    3. Non-profit agencies have agreed to verify that the person has met the 16-hour a month requirement for us not to count a month against the three-month limit. We will request verification of participation:
      1. At recertification; and
      2. Before issuing benefits beyond the three countable months.
    4. The workfare nonprofit agencies will notify us when a participant is no longer meeting the required hours.
  1. Transportation costs to meet ABAWD requirements: We can authorize payment of transportation costs using eJAS following directions in the WorkFirst Handbook and eJAS Support Services Handbook. (Only persons who are authorized access to the DSHS Intranet will be able to open this site. All other users will receive an http 404 error - page unavailable.)
  1. Job Search Services for ABAWDs:

Even though Job Search does not meet ABAWD participation requirements, ABAWDs may volunteer to receive services through Employment Security. For instructions on referrals to ESD, see EJAS Procedures in BF E&T Section C. – The Basic Food Employment and Training Program.

 

 


Monitoring

If a client fails to participate in the month:

1.    Record on the ACES WORK Screen the month and year of non-participation under the appropriate 1st, 2nd or 3rd month. ACES will automatically terminate the case when the third date is entered.

2.    Terminate benefits to clients who have regained eligibility but failed to participate.

3.    Send a termination letter with an explanation as to how to regain eligibility.

 


WAC 388-444-0045

WAC 388-444-0045

Effective December 18, 2010

WAC 388-444-0045 How does an ABAWD regain eligibility for Basic Food after being closed for the three-month limit?

1.    If you have used up your three months of benefits as an able-bodied adult without dependents (ABAWD) under WAC 388-444-0030, you can regain eligibility by: 

a.    Working eighty hours or more during a thirty-day period;

b.    Participating in and meeting the requirements of a work program for eighty hours or more during a thirty-day period; or

c.    Participating in and meeting the requirements of the community service part of a workfare program; or

d.    Meeting any of the work requirements in (a) through (c) of this subsection in the thirty days after the date you have applied for Basic Food.

2.    If you regain eligibility for food assistance under subsection (1) of this section, you are eligible for Basic Food from the date you applied for Basic Food and as long as you continue to meet the requirements of WAC 388-444-0030.

3.    If you meet all other requirements for Basic Food and you have regained eligibility under subsection (1), you may receive an additional three consecutive months of Basic Food benefits when you:

a.    Lose employment; or

b.    Lose the opportunity to participate in a work program.

4.    We only allow the additional three months of Basic Food under subsection (3) once in each thirty-six month period. 

This is a reprint of the official rule as published by the Office of the Code Reviser. If there are previous versions of this rule, they can be found using the Legislative Search page.

CLARIFYING INFORMATION

Ineligibility Due to ABAWD Requirements

  1. If a client exhausts the 3-out-of-36 months eligibility limit, we must terminate the person's Basic Food benefits as soon as we become aware of this information. We must also deny this person Basic Food at application or recertification if they do not have a personal exemption and they do not live in an exempt area.
  2. If a client is not eligible because the client does not participate, the person is an ineligible household member. We count this person's income to any remaining persons in the Basic Food Assistance unit as described under WAC 388-450-0140. How does the income of an ineligible assistance unit member affect my eligibility and benefits for food assistance?

 

Regaining Eligibility

There isn't any limit to the number of times a client can regain eligibility.  To regain eligibility a client must perform one of the following:

1.    Complete 80 hours of training within a 30-day period;

2.    Work 80 hours in a 30-day period; or

3.    Participate in Workfare for 16 hours in a month or at a minimum, the number of Workfare hours required based on the benefit amount on the reconciliation chart.

 


ReconciliationChart

If a client does not receive the maximum Basic Food allotment and has participated in Workfare for less than 16 hours in a month, the client may be considered complying with the work requirements as follows:


This chart is based on the state minimum wage of $9.04 an hour effective January 1, 2012.

Basic Food Benefits

Workfare Hours

Basic Food Benefits

Workfare Hours

$1 - 17

1

$79 - 86

9

$18 - 25

2

$87 - 95

10

$26 - 34

3

$96 - 104

11

$35 - 43

4

$105 - 112

12

$44 - 52

5

$113 - 121

13

$53 - 60

6

$122 - 130

14

$61 - 69

7

$131 - 138

15

$70 - 78

8

$139 - 147

16


EXAMPLE

The client completes 12 Workfare hours and the client's computed Basic Food benefit is $108. According to the chart, the client has worked enough volunteer hours to be eligible for the benefits since the range for 12 hours is $105 - $112 in benefits.


Eligibility for a Second 3-month period for ABAWDs

 

This section only refers to those ABAWDs who are eligible for a second three-month period as described in WAC 388-444-0045(1) & (3).  If an ABAWD becomes eligible for a second 3-month period the 3 months are consecutive months.  A partial month of benefits does not count toward this second 3-month period.  The client receives this second 3-month period whether or not the client is participating in work requirements.

If the ABAWD cannot use the additional 3-month eligibility period due to a disqualification, the ABAWD may work another 80 hours in a 30-day period again to become eligible for the second 3-month period.

 


WORKER RESPONSIBILITIES

  1. At the time of application, if the client has regained eligibility, and is otherwise eligible for Basic Food:
    1. Remind them of the availability of self-directed workfare and inform them of agencies that have indicated a willingness to accept volunteer work; and
    2. Certify the case for Basic Food.
  2. At the time of application, if the client has not regained eligibility:
    1. Allow the case to remain pending;
    2. Inform them that they can regain eligibility through self-directed workfare; and
    3. Provide them with information about agencies that have indicated a willingness to accept volunteer work.
  3. If the client does not regain eligibility during the 30-day application period, deny the application or:
    1. In a single member household, close the case, or
    2. In an opened Basic Food case, consider the person an ineligible household member.
  4. If the applicant completes the 16 hours of Workfare within the 30-day application period, follow the procedures in (1) of this section.
  5. Once the requirements for regaining eligibility are met:

a.    The client with a closed Basic Food case may, if otherwise eligible, receive benefits from the date of the application, or

b.    The client in an open Basic Food case, if otherwise eligible, is added back to the household following WAC 388-418-0020, How the department determines the date a change affects the benefit level.

 


ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING PROCEDURES

If an ABAWD requests an administrative hearing, the client's three-month clock stops ticking and benefits will continue until there is a hearing decision.

1.   If the hearing goes against the ABAWD, the 3-month clock begins to tick the first of the month following the 10-day notice advising the client of the fair hearing decision; or

2.   If the ABAWD has already used up the three months in a 36-month period, food assistance benefits are terminated the first of the month following the 10-day notice.

3.   If the ABAWD client appeals the fair hearing decision, the three-month clock stops ticking and benefits will continue until a final decision is reached.

 


ACES PROCEDURES

See Basic Food Assistance - Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD)

See Food Assistance - Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD)

Modification Date: October 18, 2013