Food Stamp “Time Limit” Rule (ABAWD)



More than 38,000 Coloradans could lose their food stamp benefits due to a “time limit” rule.

Food stamps, federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), helps provide eligible people of all ages, backgrounds and zip codes with funds to purchase groceries. Due to federal regulations of the program, some adults known as Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs) now only can get food stamp benefits for three months during a three-year period, unless they meet specific exemptions or requirements.

This federal “time limit” went into effect across Colorado on January 1, 2016, meaning those who did not meet the exemptions or requirements could have had their food stamp benefits discontinued as early as April 1, 2016.

UPDATE: A new food stamp rule, effective October 1, 2017, could exempt Coloradans residing with juveniles from the three-month time limit for receiving food stamp benefits. This change aligns state policy with federal requirements, and more importantly, recognizes the role that household members have in supporting child development. Read more.

Who is Impacted?

Any adult who is:

  • Between the ages of 18 and 49
  • Mentally and physically able to work for at least 80 hours per month—an average of 20 hours per week
  • Does not reside in a household with a child under the age of 18
  • Is not pregnant
  • Does not qualify for exemption status with required verification(s) nor meets work/volunteer requirements

See the resources section below to review a list of exemptions and needed verification, as well as work/volunteer requirements.

Organizations: How Can You Help Those Affected by the Rule? 

Disseminate information that informs clients of the rule, who’s affected and available resources, such as Hunger Free Colorado’s statewide food resource hotline (855-855-4626).

Help clients determine if they are exempt through a confidential pre-screening.

  • Share the exemption list and inform them of documents that their Department of Human Services may request. (See resources below.)
  • For those who may qualify for an exemption, let them know that they must contact their county Department of Human Services to provide the required information.

For those who are subject to work or training requirements:

  • Encourage them to contact their county Department of Human Services to obtain information on approved and available employment and training programs.
  • Have information about employment services available to share.

Direct them to call Hunger Free Colorado’s statewide food resource hotline toll-free at (855) 855-4626 or their county Department of Human Services if you cannot answer their question(s) or they need additional assistance that you cannot provide.


Download one or more of the following PDFs:

Questions or concerns? Call Hunger Free Colorado’s statewide food resource hotline toll-free at (855) 855-4626.