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Memorandum of Support

Empire Justice Memo of Support: Implement all available federal waivers to maximize food stamp participation

S.411 (Krueger)

The Empire Justice Center strongly supports S.411, which would amend section 95(1) of the Social Services Law by adding a new provision (paragraph “c”) to ensure that the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) applies for, and implements across the entire state, all available waivers under federal food stamp (now called “SNAP” --Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) rules.

This bill would help maximize federal SNAP participation and improve access across the state, especially for adults without children who are unemployed or working part time.  

S.411 would allow all ABAWDs (Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents) to be excused from the SNAP time limit rules if they live in areas of high unemployment. [1] If enacted, the bill would require OTDA to apply for and accept ABAWD waivers for every eligible area of the state, rather than let each local jurisdiction make its own decision about whether or not to accept an available ABAWD waiver. 

Affected individuals in waived areas would still be subject to the regular food stamp employment and training rules.  But they would not have to meet the much more onerous ABAWD criteria, which limits SNAP receipt to 3 months in a 3 year period unless the individual meets very strict and inflexible work requirements.   Social services districts in waived areas would also be relieved of the burdensome ABAWD tracking requirements, further streamlining and simplifying procedures on the local level.

Federal studies have shown that many ABAWDs face substantial barriers to employment and have trouble meeting the rigid ABAWD requirements.  Not surprisingly, ABAWDs have one of the lowest SNAP participation rates of all groups measured by USDA- in 2006, only 39% of eligible ABAWDs were actually receiving food stamps. 

SNAP benefits are 100% federally funded, with no state or county share.  Giving OTDA the authority to apply and implement all available federal waivers will help ensure that food stamp applicants and recipients across New York, including ABAWDs, are treated equitably. 

And now that New York State and the country as a whole are in the midst of a recession, it’s more imperative than ever that the time limit rules be waived for as many unemployed adults as possible. 

S.411 will ensure that New York State takes advantage of every possible opportunity to maximize food stamp participation across the state, and will help remedy the “patchwork of local policies” problem that creates unnecessary barriers to SNAP participation. 



End Notes

[1] The federal ABAWD rules governing time limits are contained in 7 CFR 273.24; paragraph (f) lists the waiver provisions. USDA also has substantial guidance on ABAWD policy on its webpage at

This memo was prepared by:

Barbara Weiner

Empire Justice Center
119 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12210

(518) 462-6831
(518) 935-2852