Need food? Call our SNAP Hotline: 215-430-0556

Understanding the SNAP Time Limit

Some good news during this very challenging time
  • On Friday, March 13, the U.S. District Court for D.C. issued a nationwide injunction stopping the USDA's new waiver criteria for the SNAP 3-month time limit rule for ABAWDs. Put another way, the court halted this rule from going into effect on April 1 as planned. 
  • In addition, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) suspends the SNAP time limit for ABAWDs in areas that do not have waivers. That means the time limit no longer applies in Chester, Centre, Lancaster, and Montgomery counties.
This is incredibly welcome news given the extraordinary circumstances we are facing due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the grave risks of taking SNAP away from those who need it now more than ever. 


The Trump administration has changed a SNAP rule. Starting April 1, 2020, it will now affect adults without minor children, also called Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWDS), in nearly all of Pennsylvania. 


An ABAWD is anyone who:

  • Is between the ages of 18 and 49
  • Does NOT receive SNAP with a child under the age of 18
  • Is able to work



ABAWDS may only receive benefits for 3 months every 3 years unless the person meets certain work requirements or qualifies for an exemption. 



You can keep your benefits by doing one of the following:

  • Work 20+ hours per week
  • Do job training 20+ hours per week
  • Volunteer approximately 26 hours per month
  • Work + volunteer



If any of the following apply to you, you do not have a time limit. Have your health professional fill out the PA-1921 form, keep a copy, and submit it to the welfare office. 

  • Are not able to work
  • Are pregnant
  • Have experienced domestic violence
  • Are in a drug and alcohol treatment program

* You can find and download a PA-1921 form below. Note the list of those who can sign this form is listed at the bottom of the form.  


  • Homeless
  • Caring for a disabled family member
  • Applying for or getting unemployment compensation



The three-year time clock starts again on January 1, 2021. If you lose benefits in 2020, you can apply again in 2021.

If you lose your SNAP after three months, you can get your SNAP back if you show you are exempt -OR- meet the work or volunteer requirements.

More Information

Along with our friends from The Food Trust and Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, we hosted a webinar outlining the new Time Limit Rule and how it will affect individuals receiving SNAP in PA. You can view a recording of the webinar here: GoToWebinar (viewers will need to "register" for the webinar by providing their name & email address)


Time Limit rule Flyer

View and download this flyer to share with your participants, clients, friends, and neighbors. Get information on how to keep SNAP benefits by qualifying for an exemption or meeting the work and volunteer hour requirements.


PA-1921 form

If you are finding it difficult to work, are pregnant, or are currently in a drug and alcohol treatment program you can qualify for an exemption. Have a health professional fill out this form, keep a copy, and submit it to the welfare office. 


time limit rule presentation

View this PowerPoint from our Webinar to learn more about what the new SNAP Time Limit rule means for PA and see examples of how this rule change will affect PA families.



ABAWDS Map by County

View and download this map that shows how many ABAWDS in each county in PA will be affected by the new time limit rule.