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Welfare Reform: Implications for TANF Recipients with Disabilities Webcast on Welfare and Disability January 21, 2004. Eileen P. Sweeney Center on Budget and Policy Priorities 820 First St, NE, Suite 510 Washington, DC 20002 202-408-1080 fax 202-408-1056
Eileen P. Sweeney
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
820 First St, NE, Suite 510
Washington, DC 20002
Welfare Reform: More Coordinated Federal Effort Could Help States and Localities Move TANF Recipients with Impairments Toward Employment,
GAO-02-37, October 2001, available at http://www.gao.gov, under November 1, 2001
36 percent of leavers with impairments reported having no personal or household earnings, or SSI, compared with 23 percent of leavers without impairments.
Welfare Reform: Outcomes for TANF Recipients with Impairments
GAO-02-884, July 2002, available at http://www.gao.gov
Denise F. Polit, Andrew S. London, John M. Martinez, The Health of Poor Urban Women: Findings from the Project on Devolution and Urban Change, May 2001
strongest predictor of not participating in work
activity is the presence of multiple obstacles.”
Loprest and Zedlewski, Current and Former Welfare Recipients: How Do They Differ? Urban Institute, Discussion Paper 99-17, November 1999
“We need to attend much more carefully to the plight of families experiencing welfare sanctions. Sanctioned families have a number of characteristics that serve as markers of concern for the healthy development of children and youth. As such, state and federal governments should explore options for identifying and reaching out to the most disadvantaged and high-risk families involved in the welfare system.”
Chase-Lansdale, Coley, Lohman, et al., Welfare Reform: What About the Children? Welfare, Children and Families: A Three-City Study, Policy Brief 02-1, Johns Hopkins University, 2002
Children’s Sentinel Nutrition Assessment Program, The Impact of Welfare Sanctions on the Health of Infants and Toddlers, July 2002, Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, Vol 156, 678-683, available at:
· Available at:
· Worth reading, re-reading, and sharing – provides helpful context for thinking about people with disabilities in TANF; also helpful information about best practices
• In the contents of notices
• In the signage about rights
• In the terms included in contracts with private providers or other public agencies to provide services
• In how the agency thinks about each and every policy it has that affects the people the agency serves and their families.
• Statements from the client that a particular placement is difficult because of a health condition should immediately raise questions.
— reassigning the client to another work activity
— revising the hours, days, or times of day of the work activity
— revising the conditions under which the activity is performed
— determining that participation is not currently feasible
— stepping back and determining that another assessment or a more in-depth assessment may be needed in order to determine what accommodations are needed
States must ensure that adults are “engaged in work” as determined by the state within 24 months.
State option to develop Individual Responsibility Plans for recipients
States must develop self-sufficiency plans for all parents and caretakers receiving assistance within 60 days of TANF enrollment. Plan must detain work activities.
States must develop self-sufficiency plans for all parents and caretakers receiving assistance within 60 days of TANF enrollment.
States must outline in TANF plan how they intend to require parents and caregivers to engage in work or other sufficiency activities.
Each plan must contain activities designed to assist the family achieve their maximum degree of self-sufficiency, supportive services that the state intends to provide, steps to promote child well-being, and information on work support assistance for which the family may be eligible.
State must conduct an initial assessment of skills, prior work experience and employability within 30 days of a recipients enrollment in TANF.
Similar to current law.
Senate Finance Committee:
Similar but also requires screening and assessing for work barriers, work supports, other assistance and family support services, well-being of children.
Current: 50% FY 2003 and later
(important role of caseload reduction credit)
House bill: 55% FY 2005, 60% FY 2006, 65% FY 2007, 70% FY 2008
Senate Finance: same as House
Current: caseload reduction credit (CRC)
House: retains CRC, but bases it only on recent declines in caseload
Replaces with an employment credit:
— # of families employed after leaving cash assistance
— larger credit, families w/higher earnings
— state can include families who received short-term benefits and earned at least $1,000 in quarter after receiving the benefit, or TANF-funded child care, or transportation subsidies
Current: 30 hours/week
○ if child under age 6: 20 hours/week
○ no partial credit for families engaged in work activity, but for fewer hours
House bill: 160 hours/month, regardless of child’s age
○ if child is under age 6: 24 hours
○ partial credit for single parents who
participate for 20+ hours
# of hours required
credit for partial work?
what counts as work activity?
Primary work activity: first 20 hours:
○ paid or unpaid work, including OJT, work experience, and community service
○ vocational educational training (12 months)
○ job search (6 weeks)
○ providing child care for other participants
○ any of the above
○ job skills training
○ education related to employment
○ satisfactory secondary school attendance
or participation in GED classes
○ paid or unpaid work including OJT, supervised work experience, supervised community service
○ may count other “qualified activities” (state decides) for only 3 months in any 24 month period
○ primary activities under current law
○ certain “barrier removal” activities and education activities, up to 6 months in a 24 month period
○ in months 4-6, barrier removal activities must be combined with some work or work readiness activities
○ current law plus substance abuse
counseling or treatment
○ programs designed to remove barriers
○ post-secondary education
○ adult literacy programs or activities
○ programs covered under a waiver
approved for any state after 8/22/96
○ First 3 months: all
○ Second 3 months: must do “some” work activity too
○ Builds on partial work credits in Senate Finance bill
○ If a person is determined to need rehab services beyond six months, up to ½ of required hours can be in rehab services so long as at least ½ of required hours are in work activities.
#1: Despite all of your work to the contrary, there is an assumption that if you are a person with a disability or represent people with disabilities, you just want exemptions from the TANF work requirements.
A. Right now, it’s the flexibility that states have in TANF that allows them to think creatively about how to design programs to meet the needs of people with disabilities. Increasing work requirements for families and states will reduce state flexibility and result in more people with disabilities and other barriers being pushed out the door into work settings, no matter how inappropriate that may be.
Reducing caseloads by moving low-income people with disabilities off TANF without jobs is not success for the state nor for the family.
Including mandatory full-family sanctions – as the House has done – will make the situation worse. Studies already show that parents with disabilities are being improperly sanctioned off of TANF.
People with disabilities and TANF
Eileen Sweeney, Recent Studies Indicate that Many Parents Who are Current or Former Welfare Recipients Have Disabilities or Other Medical Conditions, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, February 2000, http://www.cbpp.org/2-29-00wel.htm
Eileen Sweeney, HHS Guidance Explains How Federal Laws Barring Discrimination Against People with Disabilities Apply in State and County TANF Programs, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, February 2001, http://www.cbpp.org/2-26-01wel.htm
Sharon Parrott, Heidi Goldberg, Shawn Fremstad, Recycling An Unwise Proposal: State Concerns and New State Fiscal Realities Ignored in House Republican Welfare Bill, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, February 2003, http://www.cbpp.org/2-7-03tanf.htm
Sharon Parrott, Jennifer Mezey, Bush Administration Projects That The Number of Children Receiving Child Care Subsidies Will Fall by 200,000 During the Next Five Years, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Center for Law and Social Policy, February 2003, http://www.cbpp.org/2-5-03tanf.htm
Zoe Neuberger, Sharon Parrott and Wendell Primus, Funding Issues in TANF Reauthorization, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, February 2002, http://www.cbpp.org/1-22-02tanf5.htm
Heidi Goldberg, Improving TANF Program Outcomes for Families with Barriers to Employment, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, January 2002, http://www.cbpp.org/1-22-02tanf3.htm
Key Provisions in TANF Reauthorization Bills Passed by the Senate Finance Committee and the House, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Center for Law and Social Policy, September 2003, http://www.cbpp.org/9-22-03tanf.pdf
Robert Greenstein, Shawn Fremstad, Sharon Parrott, “Superwaiver” Would Grant Executive Branch and Governors Sweeping Authority to Override Federal Laws, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, May 2002, http://www.cbpp.org/5-13-02tanf.pdf