Do time limits in SNAP improve employment outcomes?

Assessing effects of the SNAP time limit


Policymakers seeking to reduce dependence and encourage work consider work requirements and time limits important components of public assistance programs. It is, therefore, important to investigate the impact of these requirements on program participation and employment.

For the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), we examined the effects of work requirements on 1 group of participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), referred to as able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs). People subject to the ABAWD work requirement face a time limit of 3 months of SNAP within a 36-month period in which they do not meet the work requirement.


We examined the effect of the reinstatement of the ABAWD time limit following the Great Recession on SNAP participation and benefits, employment, and earnings, using SNAP administrative data obtained from 9 states—Alabama, Colorado, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Vermont.

We used quasi-experimental methods and multivariate analysis to estimate these impacts and account for preexisting differences in SNAP participants and any simultaneous effects of time and improving economic conditions.


We found that the reinstatement of the time limit significantly reduced ABAWD SNAP participation and benefits; however, we did not find evidence that the reinstatement of the time limit improved employment and earnings of ABAWDs.

See the FNS website for the full report: The Impact of SNAP Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD) Time Limit Reinstatement in Nine States | Food and Nutrition Service


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