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The Return of the ABAWD American Association of SNAP Directors September 24, 2013 Ed Bolen, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Daniel Schroeder, University.

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Presentation on theme: "The Return of the ABAWD American Association of SNAP Directors September 24, 2013 Ed Bolen, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Daniel Schroeder, University."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Return of the ABAWD American Association of SNAP Directors September 24, 2013 Ed Bolen, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Daniel Schroeder, University of Texas, Austin Kathy Link, Utah Department of Workforce Services

2 FY 2006: Most states had partial waivers

3 FY 2013: Most states have statewide waivers

4 FY 2014: Most states still eligible for statewide

5 FY 2015: Fewer states eligible for statewide

6 FY 2016: Most states will need to request a partial waiver

7 Now is a good time to review ABAWD policy Bad news: The time limit causes hardship for many poor adults It’s extremely complicated; could mean extra work and errors Good news: There’s more flexibility for states than often understood – now is the time to reassess options!

8 The Basics Who is an able-bodied adult without dependents? – Between 18 and 50 years old – Not disabled – Not raising dependent children – Not otherwise exempt What must ABAWDs do? – Work for an average of 20 hours per week, – participate in a qualifying work activity for an average of 20 hours per week, – participate in workfare, or – Any combination What happens if they don’t? – Limited to 3 months of SNAP benefits in a thirty-six month period. How do they requalify?

9 Developing a Plan of Action What areas can your state still waive? Who is and is not subject to ABAWD requirements? Who will the state individually exempt? Who will be offered qualified training (and what activities qualify)? How do you track all this? Training

10 Waiver Options Ways to qualify – Statewide or any area within a state – Recent 12 or 3 month average unemployment over 10 percent – Area has been designated a Labor Surplus Area for current fiscal year by DOL – 24-month average unemployment rate 20 percent above national average – Low and declining employment to population ratio Flexibility – Not limited to Fiscal Year timeline http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/rules/Memo/PRWORA/abawds/ABAWDsPage.htm Tip: the Center can help your state prepare a waiver request!

11 Exemptions U nder 18 or 50 years or older Parent of household member under 18 Residing in household with member under 18 Pregnant Determined by state to be unfit for work Already exempt from SNAP work requirements Working an average of 20 hours per week

12 Flexibility with Exemptions ABAWD definition of disabled: “determined by the State agency to be medically certified as physically or mentally unfit for employment” – Receiving temporary or permanent disability, including private disability – Is obviously mentally or physically unfit for work – Provides a statement from a State-approved medical personnel In contrast, SNAP general definition requires receipt of a government disability-related benefit.

13 State Definition of “unable to work” Several ways to qualify Receive benefits, even temporary Obviously unfit 3d party verification Several options to verify Physician Physician’s assistant Nurse Nurse practitioner Rep from doctor’s office Psychologist Social worker Other medical personnel

14 Meeting the Work Requirement Who can be offered a training or work slot? What options are available? – SNAP E&T – Workfare – Other E&T What is the state’s capacity – Identify existing E&T programs capacity to serve childless adults – Geographical saturation – Assess ability to expand Taking the pledge

15 SNAP E&T Can Help Provide Services 100% federal funds – $99 million in FY 2012 50%-50% matching – $240 million in FY 2012 Pledge states – $20 million each year (CO, DE, NY, SD, TX in 2012) Leveraging funds with community partners

16 E&T Options: 20 hours/week Education and Training – Basic or vocational education, technical training, on-the-job training and up to half of required hours in job search Workforce Investment Act programs – Can include job search – Funded by Department of Labor Trade Act – Training for workers who have lost or may lose jobs – Can include job search – Funded by federal Department of Labor

17 Other Options: Hours Vary SNAP Workfare – Placement at public and non-profit employers – Can be voluntary with no disqualification for failure to comply Non-SNAP Workfare – Operated by non-SNAP government agency – Cannot use 100% E&T funding (but may match) Work Experience – Placements at public and private (including for-profit) employers – Includes self-placement

18 The Individual or “15 percent” Exemption Exemptions equal to 15 percent of the State’s ABAWD caseload subject to the time limit. Each exemption extends eligibility to one person for one month (case months). Yes, this is confusing. Developing an exemption policy: – Check what’s in the bank (or what you owe) – Extend the time limit by adding months to all affected individuals – Target specific geographic areas

19 Automating Exemptions Rule: Exemptions apply to all individuals in an area not covered by a waiver First, identify an ABAWD Next, screen for exemption If no exemption, then 12 month personal exemption Tracking

20 Regaining Eligibility How? – By working for 30 days, meeting an exemption or when the 36 month period ends. The tricky part: An ABAWD who regains eligibility but then does not meet the work requirement can receive an additional 3 months of benefits. – Only once in a 3-year period – The 3 months must be used consecutively – This must be tracked

21 Tracking It All Systems must be able to track: – 36 month clock for each individual – Months in which individual did not meet requirements or be exempt – Months of regained eligibility Just to make this more complicated – Countable months need not be consecutive – Must track breaks in participation – Only full benefit months count System must be able to track use of individual exemptions

22 Implementing the ABAWD Three-Month Time Limit Kathy Link Utah Department of Workforce Services September 2013

23 Decision to Implement Statewide Executive Director made decision to implement the 3-month limit statewide – Decision made in part due to anticipation that Utah would eventually no longer qualify for a statewide waiver – Did not want to implement time limits at same time as ACA No increase in E&T budget to implement ABAWD time limits Decision was made to automate E&T and shift staff to case manage ABAWDs

24 Planning Process Planning began in March 2011 with implementation target date of October 1, 2012 Workgroup formed consisting of: – Policy – Systems – Operations Phase 1 Automate E&T – Stopped serving volunteers July 1, 2012 (now considered universal customers) – Participate 3 months out of 12

25 Phase 1 (cont.) – Modeled SNAP E&T on Unemployment Insurance model Send notice to mandatory participants with instructions to go online Complete online assessment to determine if job ready Complete workshops as assigned by assessment – Resume writing, interviewing skills, social networking, etc Job search Phase 2 ABAWD – Most workers did not know ABAWD policy – ABAWD time limits not in new eligibility system – Pulled out old ABAWD policy and current regulations

26 Policy and Program Decisions Pledge state ABAWD process – Automated referral made to employment counselor if 0, 1 or 2 months of ABAWD used – Manual referral made to employment counselor by eligibility if all 3 months used so can begin participation immediately – Meet with employment counselor before 4 th month – First month of participation is job search and assignment to worksite – Second month and ongoing participate 24 hours per month of worksite

27 Implementation Implemented incrementally – All new applications beginning October 1 had time limit – Ongoing cases time limit began at first recertification after September 2012 Estimated 17,000 ABAWDs with ongoing cases. Approximately 2800 per month for first six months – Very limited number of 15% exemptions so limited criteria for use

28 Technology  New eligibility system (eREP) implemented summer 2010  ABAWD not in production in system when decision made to implement time limits  System changes were made in two phases o October 1 changes –clock started ticking, notices created o January 1 changes-communicate with employment counseling system, ability to be both E&T and ABAWD

29 Training Staff Two rounds of mandatory in-person training – September 2012 trained on who is an ABAWD, what are work requirements, who is exempt, ABAWD processes, how system changes will work – December 2012 trained on additional systems changes and the more complicated situations including how to handle recipients who are both E&T and ABAWD Q&A’s sent out to staff

30 Outcomes E&T – 15% participate – 78% of cases that close, close for non-participation – 22% of those who close have earnings within 6 months of closure ABAWD – 12% participate – 82% of cases that close, close for non-participation – 16% of those who close have earnings within 6 months of closure

31 Checklist Policy options Identify possible waiver options Review exemption policy – Unfit for work – Verification Use of 15% exemptions Program options Capacity of state E&T programs Partnerships with other training programs Implementation Develop tracking system and policy Training for staff Notice and information to participants

32 Questions? Ed Bolen Center on Budget and Policy Priorities bolen@cbpp.org


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