Ribicoff obtained degrees from New York University and the University of Chicago in 1933. Ribicoff, a member of the Democratic Party, served two terms as a representative to the Connecticut House of Representatives (1938-1942). He also served two terms as a police court judge in Hartford, Connecticut.
In 1948 Ribicoff was elected to the US House of Representatives. Although he was defeated in his 1952 bid for the US Senate, he was elected Governor of Connecticut and served two terms (1955-61).
Ribicoff was a supporter of John F. Kennedy and in 1961 was appointed as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. In this post he advocated programs such as Medicare, Youth Fitness and Equal Employment Opportunity. A few months after resigning from the Cabinet in 1962, he was elected to the Senate, and then reelected in 1968 and 1974. In the Senate, Ribicoff promoted consumer protection legislation, pollution controls and aid to cities.
Ribicoff was concerned by corruption in Congress. For example, the Suite 8F Group also did very well out of the escalation of the Vietnam War. They formed a new company called RMK-BRJ to obtain these contracts. This included Halliburton who took over Brown & Root in 1962. These contracts included building jet runways, dredging channels for ships, hospitals, prisons, communications facilities, and building American bases from Da Nang to Saigon. RMK-BRJ did 97% of the construction work in Vietnam. The other 3% went to local Vietnamese contractors. Between 1965 and 1972 Brown & Root (Halliburton) alone obtained revenues of $380 million from its work in Vietnam. Ribicoff attempted to expose this scandal. He claimed that millions was being paid in kickbacks. An investigation by the General Accounting Office discovered that by 1967 RMK-BRJ had lost $120 million. However, GAO never managed to identify the people obtaining these kickbacks.
While in the Senate he served on the committees on Government Operations and on Governmental Affairs. In 1968 Ribicoff created great controversy by accusing Chicago Mayor Richard Daley of using "Gestapo" tactics at the Democratic National Convention. An opponent of the Vietnam War, Ribicoff supported George McGovern during his presidential campaign.
In 1981, Ribicoff retired from the Senate and took a position as special counsel to the New York law firm of Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays & Handler.
Abraham Ribicoff died in New York City on 22nd February, 1998 and was interned at Cornwall Cemetery, Connecticut.