One Year after Federal Welfare Reform

A Description of State Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Decisions as of October 1997

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Document date: May 01, 1998
Released online: May 01, 1998

Assessing the New Federalism is a multi-year Urban Institute project designed to analyze the devolution of responsibility for social programs from the federal government to the states, focusing primarily on health care, income security, job training, and social services. Researchers monitor program changes and fiscal developments. In collaboration with Child Trends, Inc., the project studies changes in family well-being. The project aims to provide timely, nonpartisan information to inform public debate and to help state and local decisionmakers carry out their new responsibilities more effectively.

Key components of the project include a household survey, studies of policies in 13 states, and a database with information on all states and the District of Columbia, available at the Urban Institute's Web site. This paper is one in a series of occasional papers analyzing information from these and other sources.

The nonpartisan Urban Institute publishes studies, reports, and books on timely topics worthy of public consideration. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to The Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders.

The authors thank Sheila Zedlewski, Michael Wiseman, and the many state officials and others who provided comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

Notes: Those wishing to print this report may find it easier to use the PDF Version.


Contents


Tables

Table 1. Asset Limits for Recipients
Table 2. Asset Limit Implementation Dates
Table 3. Income Eligibility Limits for Recipients in the Initial Month and after One Year of Earnings for a Family of Three with No Unearned Income or Child Care Expenses, October 1997 and July 1996
Table 4. Diversion Assistance Payments under TANF
Table 5. Eligibility Rules and Time Limits for Two-Parent, Nondisabled Families
Table 6. State Time Limits, Exemptions, and Extensions
Table 7. Time Limit Implementation Dates
Table 8. Work Requirement Exemption Based on Age of Youngest Child
Table 9. Work Exemption Based on Age of Youngest Child Policy Implementation Dates
Table 10. Sanction Policies for Noncompliance with Work Activities Requirements
Table 11. Work Activities Sanction Policy Implementation Dates
Table 12. States Requiring Nonexempt Recipients to Engage in Employment or Unpaid Work Experience
Table 13. Monthly Benefit for a Single Parent with Two Children and No Income, October 1997 and July 1996
Table 14. Earnings Disregard Policies for TANF Recipients
Table 15. Earnings Disregard Policy Implementation Dates
Table 16. States with Family Cap Provisions
Table 17. Family Cap Implementation Dates
Table 18. Amount of Child Support Pass-Through
Table 19. Program Rules Determined by Counties
Table 20. States Allowing Counties to Obtain Waivers of TANF Program Rules
Table A.1 Detailed Income Eligibility Rules for TANF Recipients
Table A.2 Detailed Sanction Rules for Noncompliance with Work Requirements

Introduction

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, replacing the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program and giving states flexibility to create new cash assistance programs for families with children. While the federal legislation establishes a variety of minimum requirements in some areas, there is considerable flexibility for states to exceed these minimum requirements and a number of areas are open to state discretion.(1)

This paper reviews some of the major decisions that states have made regarding the design of cash assistance programs under TANF, based on information available as of October 1997. This time period is appropriate because by October 1997 all state TANF plans had been approved and most states had enacted legislation in response to the new TANF block grant. Not all aspects of TANF programs are included in this review, however. State decisions concerning immunization requirements, treatment of interstate migrants, and teen parent school attendance requirements are among those not included in this paper. We focus on some of the major decisions regarding program eligibility and benefits, time limits, and work requirements.(2)

The following section of the paper discusses the sources used for the descriptions of state programs. The remaining sections describe different aspects of state programs as follows:

  • Asset limits
  • Income eligibility limits
  • Diversion assistance payments
  • Eligibility of two-parent families
  • Definition of time limits
  • Exemptions from time limits
  • Extensions to time limits
  • Implementation dates of time limits
  • Work exemptions based on the age of youngest child
  • Work sanctions
  • Work requirement time limits
  • Benefit amounts
  • Earnings disregards
  • Family caps
  • Child support pass-through

For each of these sections we describe briefly how these provisions were applied under the former AFDC program and under waivers, the changes made by PRWORA, and the decisions that states have made concerning each provision. The final section describes the potential for county variation within states.


Information Sources

Although all states have now replaced their AFDC programs with TANF-funded programs, the timing of the implementation of new programs has differed across states. Some states are continuing many of the program elements that had been in place under waivers before the passage of PRWORA. Others have redesigned their cash assistance programs since PRWORA, as reflected in the TANF plans submitted by the states to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Several states have enacted new state legislation since the time that their state plan was originally submitted, modifying their existing program or creating an entirely new one.

The information sources used for this paper reflect this variety of ways that state programs have developed. For all states, TANF plans were obtained from DHHS and reviewed to understand the basic decisions made by the states. For states maintaining elements of their waivers under TANF, the terms and conditions of these waivers were used, along with information collected by the Urban Institute concerning which waiver provisions have been implemented. State legislation and/or regulations pertaining to TANF-funded programs were used in many cases to further understand state decisions, especially for states in which legislation was enacted after the submission of the original state plan. In a number of states, caseworker manuals for cash assistance programs were used to extract more detailed information about program rules. For the section on child support, information collected by the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement was used in conjunction with the aforementioned sources. Finally, a draft version of this paper was sent to TANF administrators in all 50 states and the District of Columbia for review, and subsequent comments were incorporated into the final paper.

The program rules described in this paper reflect the most recent information available on state programs as of October 1997.(3) For some states, the program rules described here have already been implemented; however for other states in which legislation has recently been enacted, the provisions may not have been implemented yet. We provide information on dates of implementation for different program rules in tables in each section. For states in which the program is in the process of being phased in across the state, we describe the program that will be in place once the phase-in is complete.(4)


Eligibility

Asset Limits(5)

Under AFDC, families receiving assistance were not allowed to accumulate more than $1,000 in countable resources. This limit excluded the value of certain assets, including the value of a vehicle up to $1,500. Under waivers, many states increased the asset limit for recipient families, increased the value of the vehicle exemption, or allowed families to establish restricted savings accounts. Restricted savings accounts allow recipients to contribute earned income to an account to be used for certain specified purposes, and the savings accumulated are not counted toward the asset limit.

Under PRWORA, the federal government made no provisions regarding asset limits, including vehicle exclusions, so states have the flexibility to set their own asset rules. PRWORA did give states the authority to use TANF funds to create individual development accounts (IDAs), a form of restricted savings account that allows recipients to accumulate savings to be used for postsecondary education, homeownership, and business capitalization.

Table 1 shows the asset limits that states have adopted under TANF. Thirty-nine states have increased the asset limit for recipients above the $1,000 limit allowed under AFDC. Forty-eight states have increased the vehicle exemption from the $1,500 exemption allowed under AFDC, with 22 states excluding at least the full value of the first vehicle from consideration. Twenty-two states allow recipients to accumulate additional savings in a restricted savings account set aside for a specific purpose allowed by the state.

Table 2 shows the implementation dates for changes in policy regarding the total countable asset limit. Implementation dates for changes to vehicle exemption and restricted savings account policy are not shown. The table shows whether current policies were adopted before 1992, between 1992 and the passage of PRWORA (August 1996), or after the passage of PRWORA. The time period between 1992 and the passage of PRWORA roughly corresponds to the time period in which states were implementing changes under waivers. However, some waivers that were approved prior to passage of PRWORA were not implemented until the state began its TANF program.

Twelve states have maintained the asset limit that was set for recipients under the former AFDC program. Eleven states implemented changes to the AFDC asset limit through a waiver. The remaining 28 states implemented changes to their asset limit after the passage of PRWORA. Of the states that changed their asset limit, five implemented it in selected counties and later expanded it to cover all counties.


Table 1. Asset Limits for Recipients


State Asset Limit Vehicle Exemption Restricted
Savings Account

Alabama $2,000/3,000(32)                     One vehicle(30) ---
Alaska   1,000 All vehicles for approved purposes(31) ---
Arizona   2,000 One vehicle 9,000
Arkansas   3,000 One vehicle *
California   2,000/3,000(32) 4,650 5,000
Colorado   2,000 One vehicle *
Connecticut   3,000 One vehicle ---
Delaware   1,000 4,650 5,000
Dist. of Columbia   1,000 1,500 ---
Florida   2,000 8,500 ---
Georgia   1,000 4,650 5,000
Hawaii   5,000 One vehicle ---
Idaho   2,000 4,650 ---

State Asset Limit Vehicle Exemption Restricted
Savings Account

Illinois   3,000 One vehicle ---
Indiana   1,500 1,000 ---
Iowa   5,000 3,889(33) *
Kansas   2,000 One vehicle ---
Kentucky   2,000 One vehicle 5,000
Louisiana   2,000 10,000 6,000
Maine   2,000 One vehicle 10,000
Maryland   2,000 One vehicle ---
Massachusetts   2,500 5,000 ---
Michigan   3,000 One vehicle(34) ---
Minnesota   5,000(35) 7,500(36) ---

State Asset Limit Vehicle Exemption Restricted
Savings Account

Mississippi   1,000 1,500 ---
Missouri   5,000(37) One vehicle; $1,500 of second ---
Montana  3,000 One vehicle(38) No limit
Nebraska   4,000/6,000(39) One vehicle ---
Nevada   2,000 One vehicle ---
New Hampshire   2,000 One vehicle(40) ---
New Jersey   2,000 9,500 ---
New Mexico   1,500 One vehicle *
New York   2,000/3,000(41) 4,650 *
North Carolina   3,000 5,000 ---
North Dakota   5,000/8,000(42) One vehicle ---
Ohio   1,000 4,650 10,000
Oklahoma   1,000 5,000 2,000
Oregon  2,500/10,000(43) 10,000 *(44)

State Asset Limit Vehicle Exemption Restricted
Savings Account

Pennsylvania   1,000 One vehicle *
Rhode Island   1,000 4,650 ---(45)
South Carolina   2,500 10,000 10,000
South Dakota   2,000 4,650(46) 1,000
Tennessee   2,000 4,600 ---
Texas   2,000/3,000(47) 4,650 ---
Utah   2,000 8,000(48) ---
Vermont  1,000 One vehicle 10,000(49)
Virginia   1,000 7,500(50) 5,000
Washington   1,000 5,000(51) 3,000
West Virginia   2,000 4,500(52) ---
Wisconsin   2,500 10,000 ---
Wyoming   2,500 12,000(53) ---

Source: Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.

Note: Asset rules may differ for families applying for assistance and for families who are already receiving assistance. This table refers only to asset rules for recipient families.

* Limit on restricted savings is unspecified.




Table 2. Asset Limit Implementation Dates


Implementation of
Current Policy:

Implementation of
Current Policy

State Before
1/92
1/92–
8/96
After 8/96 State Before
1/92
1/92–
8/96
After 8/96

Alabama X Montana X*(54)
Alaska X Nebraska X
Arizona X Nevada X
Arkansas X New Hampshire X
California X New Jersey X
Colorado X New Mexico X
Connecticut X New York X
Delaware X North Carolina X
Dist. of Columbia X North Dakota X*(55)
Florida X(56) Ohio X
Georgia X Oklahoma X
Hawaii X Oregon X*(57)
Idaho X Pennsylvania X

Implementation of
Current Policy

Implementation of
Current Policy

State Before
1/92
1/92–
8/96
After 8/96 State Before
1/92
1/92–
8/96
After 8/96

Illinois X Rhode Island X
Indiana X South Carolina X
Iowa X South Dakota X
Kansas X Tennessee X
Kentucky X Texas X
Louisiana X Utah X*(58)
Maine X Vermont X
Maryland X Virginia X
Massachusetts X Washington X
Michigan X West Virginia X*(59)
Minnesota X(60) Wisconsin X
Mississippi X Wyoming X
Missouri X

Source: Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.

Note: This table refers only to the implementation of states' asset limits on total countable resources. The table does not reflect implementation dates for vehicle exemption and restricted savings accounts policies.

* Asset limit began in selected countries or with a limited number of cases and later expanded to cover all cases.

Income Eligibility Limits

Under AFDC, recipient families were subject to two income eligibility tests.(6) First, a family's income before earnings disregards (gross income) had to be less than 185 percent of the state's need standard. The need standard was based on each state's definition of the cost of meeting basic living needs for a family of a given size. Second, a family's income after the application of the earned income disregard (i.e., their net income) had to be less than the payment standard; otherwise the computed benefit would be less than zero and the family would be ineligible.(7) Under waivers, a few states made changes to income eligibility tests, such as removing the gross income test or setting income eligibility limits in relation to the federal poverty level. Changes to income eligibility limits were also made implicitly whenever states changed need or payment standards or modified earnings disregards under waivers. PRWORA did not specify the income eligibility tests that states were to use under TANF, and this implicitly gave them the flexibility to either maintain the AFDC eligibility rules or create new ones.

Many states have maintained the income eligibility tests that existed under AFDC, but several have made changes. Income eligibility rules under TANF are described in detail in table A.1. The rules themselves do not provide an easy basis for comparison of state policies for a number of reasons. First, some states compare income to the need or payment standard and others compare it to the poverty threshold, but without knowing the size of the need or payment standards relative to the poverty threshold it is difficult to compare eligibility limits. Second, a number of state policy choices--including benefit levels, earned income disregards, and income tests--interact in ways that make it difficult to understand the ultimate effect of these policies.

For these reasons, we have computed the income eligibility limit for a recipient family of three with no unearned income or child care expenses, in order to compare state policies.(8) The results of these calculations as of October 1997 and July 1996 are shown in table 3. Because the earned income disregard, which affects net income, varies over time in some states, we show income eligibility limits in the initial month and in the 13th month of earnings. The income eligibility limits (also referred to as breakevens) shown in table 3 should be interpreted as the earnings level at which eligibility ends for a recipient family of three. Families of three with earnings less than the amount shown would presumably receive a benefit.(9)

The first column shows that in the initial month, income eligibility limits in October 1997 vary from as high as $1,740 in Alaska to $400 in Texas. In 5 states--Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, and New Jersey--all earnings are disregarded in the initial month of earnings and there is no gross income limit, so there is effectively no earned income limit in the initial month. The limits at the thirteen month of earnings in October 1997 vary from $1,640 in Hawaii to $210 in Alabama. Income eligibility limits are lower in the 13th month than in the initial month in the 16 states that phase out earnings disregards over time.

The middle two columns in table 3 show the income eligibility limits in July 1996, just prior to the passage of PRWORA.(10) The final two columns in table 3 show how income eligibility limits have changed for recipients between July 1996 and October 1997. Ten states have made no changes to their income limits. Twenty-five states have increased the income limits for both the initial month and the 13th month of earnings, and two have lowered eligibility limits for both time periods. Six states have made changes to their earnings disregards that have caused the income eligibility limits to be lower in the initial month than they had been under AFDC but higher in the 13th month. Alabama has increased income limits in the first month but decreased them in the 13th month. Three states have increased income limits in the 13th month while the income limits in the first month remain unchanged, and two states have increased income limits in the first month while the income limits in the 13th month remain unchanged.(11)

Table 3. Income Eligibility Limits for Recipients in the Initial Month and after One Year of Earnings for a Family of Three with No Unearned Income or Child Care Expenses, October 1997 and July 1996


TANF Income Eligibility
Limit in October 1997

AFDC Income Eligibility
Limit in July 1996

Change in Income
Eligibility Limit

State 1st Month
of Earnings
13th Month
of Earnings
1st Month
of Earnings
13th Month
of Earnings
1st Month
of Earnings
13th Month
of Earnings

Alabama *(61) $210       $370         $250         **         ($50)        
Alaska $1,740       1,560       1,660       1,120       $70       440      
Arizona 590       590       640       440       (60)       150      
Arkansas 560       560       430       290       130       260      
California 1,360       1,360       1,220       1,220       140       140      
Colorado 750       510       750       510       nc       nc      
Connecticut 1,110(62) 1,110(62) 1,080(62) 1,080(62) 30       30      
Delaware 1,370       920       630       430       740       500            
Dist. of Columbia 690       470       740       510       (50)       (40)      
Florida 810       810       570       390       230       410      
Georgia 760       510       760       510       nc       nc      
Hawaii 1,640       1,640       1,190       800       450       840      
Idaho 610       610       600       410       20       210      
Illinois 1,110       1,110       1,080       1,080       30       30      
Indiana 550(63) 380(63) 550       380       nc       nc      
Iowa 1,070       1,070       1,070       1,070       nc       nc      
Kansas 790       790       760       520       30       280      
Kentucky *       650       910       620       **       30      
Louisiana 1,210       310       410       280       810       30      
Maine 1,020(64) 1,020(64) 950       640       70       380      
Maryland 520       520       680       460       (160)       60      
Massachusetts 1,050(65) 1,050(65) 1,050(65) 1,050(65) nc       nc      
Michigan 770       770       770       770       nc       nc      
Minnesota 1,310*** 1,310*** 920       620       **       **      
Mississippi *(66) 460       670       460       **       nc      
Missouri 560       380       560       380       nc       nc      
Montana 800       800       960       650       (160)       150      
Nebraska 670       670       670       450       nc       220      
Nevada *       440       640       440       **       nc      
New Hampshire 1,100       1,100       950       640       160       460      
New Jersey *       850       780       530       **       320      
New Mexico 720       720       700       480       20       240      
New York 1,070       1,070       990       670       80       400      
North Carolina 940       630       940       630       nc       nc      
North Dakota 1,140*** 1,140*** 770       520       **       **      
Ohio 930       930       930       630       nc       300      
Oklahoma 730       730       580       400       150       340      
Oregon 620       620       620       550       nc       70      
Pennsylvania 800       800       720       490       80       310      
Rhode Island 1,280       1,280       950       640       330       640      
South Carolina 930       630       910       610       20       20      
South Dakota 630       630       880       600       (250)       30      
Tennessee 830       830       1,140       770       (310)       60      
Texas 400       280       400       280       nc       nc      
Utah 950       950       950       950       nc       nc      
Vermont 960       960       950       950       20       20      
Virginia 1,110(67) 1,110(67) 1,080(67) 1,080(67) 30       30      
Washington 1,090       1,090       940       640       150       450      
West Virginia 440       440       500       340       (60)       100      
Wisconsin 1,280(68) 1,280(68) 740/900(69) 740/610(69) 540/380       540/670      
Wyoming 540       540       1,010       680       (470)       (140)      

Source: Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.

Notes: The income eligibility limit (also known as the breakeven) refers to the earnings level at which eligibility ends. However, most states do not pay benefits of less than $10, with the result that actual benefit eligibility ends at a slightly lower earnings level in these states. The income eligibility limits shown are for recipients; income eligibility limits may be different for applicant families. For states in which income eligibility levels vary within the state because of variation in benefit levels, the income limit shown is for the area with the largest portion of the state population.
    All values have been rounded to the nearest $10. Values in final two columns may not reflect the difference between the 1997 and 1996 values shown due to rounding error.

* There is effectively no income limit because 100 percent of earnings are disregarded in the initial month of earnings.

** Change cannot be determined because there is no income limit in 1997 or TANF and food stamps are issued as a combined benefit in 1997.

*** TANF and food stamps are issued as a combined benefit, with one set of program rules, so eligibility levels reflect both TANF and Food Stamps program rules.

"nc" indicates no change.

Numbers in parentheses indicate a reduction in income eligibility limits.

Diversion Assistance Payments

Diversion assistance payments are offered to families who are eligible for TANF with the intent of providing assistance to families with short-term needs.(70) By accepting the diversion assistance payment, the family generally agrees not to reapply for cash assistance for a specified period of time. Payment may be made in cash or as a vendor payment--that is, a restricted payment made directly to a third party for a specific purpose such as payment of rent or car repair. Often, diversion payments are a multiple of the maximum monthly benefit that a family would have received if the family received TANF. States sometimes provide supportive services such as child care or Medicaid along with diversion assistance.

Three states (Montana, Utah, and Virginia) began providing diversion assistance payments under waivers, but under TANF states are free to provide such payments without waivers and a total of 22 states have decided to do so. Table 4 shows the states that are providing diversion payments statewide under TANF and some of the major policy options they have concerning such payments, including the maximum payment amount, the form of the payment, the frequency with which a family is eligible for a payment, and the period of ineligibility following receipt of the diversion assistance payment. A typical maximum payment for many states is a payment equal to three months of cash assistance. Of the 21 states in which the method of payment is known, 11 make cash payments, 7 make cash or vendor payments, 1 (Maine) makes only vendor payments, and 2 (California and Colorado) have left the method of payment for counties to decide. Of the 16 states in which the frequency of payment is known, six allow a family to receive only one diversion payment in a lifetime and 10 allow the possibility of more than one payment to a family. The period of ineligibility for TANF following receipt of diversion assistance varies across states but is often equal to or greater than the number of months included in the diversion payment. In six states, there is no initial period of TANF ineligibility, but each state has a period of time where the diversion payment counts against the benefit.

Table 4. Diversion Assistance Payments under TANF


State Maximum Diversion
Assistance Payment(70)
Form of
Payment(71)
How Often
Payment
Can Be Received
Period of TANF
Ineligibility after
Receiving Payment

Alaska       2 months Cash Once per 12 months None (3 months)(72)
Arizona(73)       3 months Cash ** None (3 months)(74)
Arkansas       3 months Cash Once per lifetime 100 days
California        * * ** **
Colorado(75)        3 months * * *
Florida       2 months Cash Once per lifetime 3 months
Idaho       3 months Cash Once per lifetime Twice the number of months included in payment
Kentucky       $1,500 Cash or vendor Once per 12 months 12 months(76)
Maine       3 months Vendor Once per lifetime None (3 months)(77)
Maryland       3 months(78) Cash or vendor No limit(79) Number of months included in payment
State Maximum Diversion
Assistance Payment(70)
Form of
Payment(71)
How Often
Payment
Can Be Received
Period of TANF
Ineligibility after
Receiving Payment

Minnesota       4 months Cash or vendor Once per 36 months Number of months included in payment
Montana(80)       3 months Cash Once per lifetime Twice the number of months included in payment
North Carolina       3 months ** ** **
Ohio       * Cash or vendor * **
Rhode Island       3 months Cash ** 6 months
South Dakota       2 months Cash or vendor No limit(79) None (3 months)(81)
Texas(82)       $1,000 Cash Once per 12 months 12 months
Utah       3 months Cash No limit None (3 months)(72)
Virginia       4 months Cash or vendor Once per 60 months 4/3 the number of months included in payment(83)
Washington       $1,500 Cash or vendor Once per 12 months None (12 months)(84)
West Virginia       3 months Cash Once per lifetime 3 months
Wisconsin(85)       $1,600 Cash Payment cannot exceed $1,600 in 12-month period **

Source: Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.

Note: Only states that provide a lump-sum diversion assistance payment are included in this table. States that provide applicant job search diversion or support services diversion are not included.

* County option.

** Information not available from source materials.

Eligibility of Two-Parent Families(13)

Under AFDC, eligibility for two-parent families was restricted to those families in which the children were "deprived" of parental support due to the incapacitation of a parent or the unemployment or underemployment of the principal wage earner of the family. Two-parent families with an incapacitated parent were treated similarly to single-parent families, while two-parent families with an unemployed/underemployed principal wage earner received benefits as part of the AFDC for Unemployed Parents (AFDC-UP) program. As a condition of eligibility, AFDC-UP families had to meet three requirements in addition to those required of single-parent families and two-parent families with an incapacitated parent:

  • The 100-hour rule: AFDC-UP applicants and recipients were eligible only as long as the principal wage earner was unemployed, defined as working less than 100 hours per month.
  • A 30-day waiting period: AFDC-UP applicants were not eligible for assistance until after the principal wage earner had been unemployed for at least 30 days.
  • The work history rule: AFDC-UP applicants had to demonstrate previous attachment to the labor force by working in six or more quarters in any 13-calendar-quarter period ending within one year before application for assistance, or by being eligible for unemployment compensation within one year before application.

As part of the 1988 Family Support Act, all states were required to adopt an AFDC-UP program, and a few states received authorization to conduct demonstrations removing the 100-hour rule for AFDC-UP applicants and recipients. Twenty-three states were given the option to set time limits on AFDC-UP eligibility by denying assistance after an AFDC-UP family had received assistance for at least six months out of a 12-month period.(14) At the time of the passage of PRWORA, however, only 12 states had time limits on AFDC-UP families.

Under waivers, more states began experimenting with eliminating the 100-hour rule as well as the other AFDC-UP rules. States that removed all three AFDC-UP eligibility rules and the AFDC-UP time limits essentially stopped differentiating two-parent families from single-parent families for eligibility purposes.

PRWORA eliminates the federal requirement that states impose the extra eligibility restrictions on two-parent families, thus devolving responsibility for these decisions to the states. States may choose to retain the AFDC rules for two-parent families, eliminate the rules and treat two-parent families as it does single-parent families, or implement new rules that treat two-parent families differently from single-parent families.

Table 5 lists for each state the eligibility rules and time limits in place for two-parent, nondisabled families. Thirty-five states treat eligibility for two-parent families the same as for single-parent families. Seven states have retained all three AFDC-UP eligibility rules. One state (Indiana) has retained all three AFDC-UP eligibility rules for applicants but no longer applies the 100-hour rule to recipients. Three states (Arizona, Georgia, and Massachusetts) only have a work history rule, although Georgia's work history rule is somewhat modified. California has retained the 100-hour rule but only for applicants, modified its 30-day waiting period, and eliminated the work history rule. South Dakota has retained the 100-hour rule, but eliminated the 30-day waiting period and modified its work history rule. Washington has retained its work history rule, eliminated its 100-hour rule, and modified its 30-day waiting period. Oklahoma has retained its work history rule and 30-day waiting period, but eliminated the 100-hour rule. Only one state (Arizona) has retained the six-out-of-twelve months time limit for two-parent families. One other state (Utah) established a seven-out-of-thirteen months time limit on two-parent families.

Table 5. Eligibility Rules and Time Limits for Two-Parent, Nondisabled Families


State 100-Hour
Rule
30-Day
Waiting Period
Work History
Rule
6-Out-of-12-
Months Time Limit

Alabama        
Alaska        
Arizona     X X
Arkansas        
California * X(86)    
Colorado        
Connecticut        
Delaware        
Dist. of Columbia X X X  
Florida        
State 100-Hour
Rule
30-Day
Waiting Period
Work History
Rule
6-Out-of-12-
Months Time Limit

Georgia     X(87)  
Hawaii        
Idaho        
Illinois        
Indiana * X X  
Iowa        
Kansas        
Kentucky X X X  
Louisiana        
Maine X X X  
Maryland        
Massachusetts     X  
Michigan        
Minnesota        


State 100-Hour
Rule
30-Day
Waiting Period
Work History
Rule
6-Out-of-12-
Months Time Limit

Mississippi X X X  
Missouri(88) X X X  
Montana        
Nebraska        
Nevada        
New Hampshire X X X  
New Jersey        
New Mexico        
New York        
North Carolina        
North Dakota        
Ohio        
Oklahoma   X X  

State 100-Hour
Rule
30-Day
Waiting Period
Work History
Rule
6-Out-of-12-
Months Time Limit

Oregon        
Pennsylvania X X X  
Rhode Island        
South Carolina        
South Dakota X   X(89)  
Tennessee        
Texas        
Utah       X(90)
Vermont        
Virginia        
Washington (91) X(92) X  
West Virginia        
Wisconsin        
Wyoming        

Source: Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.

Note: "X" indicates that the rule is in effect as of October 1997. For definitions of these rules, see page III-12.

*State has retained the 100-hour rule for applicants but not for recipients.


Time Limits

Under AFDC, there were no restrictions on the number of months families were eligible to receive assistance.(15) However, several states received waivers that established a time limit for cash assistance for all families. These "termination" or "reduction" time limits would either terminate or reduce a family's benefit after a set period of time, unless that family was exempt or received an extension of additional time.

Under PRWORA, states may not use TANF funds to provide assistance to a family that includes an adult who has received assistance for more than 60 months, and the state may set a time limit of less than 60 months. However, the state is allowed to exempt up to 20 percent of its caseload from the 60 month time limit, and states may use their own funds to provide assistance to families after 60 months.(16) Further, states with less restrictive time limits approved as waivers under AFDC may choose to continue that time limit policy under TANF.

Table 6 shows the time limits for each state, the general categories of persons who are exempt, and the provisions in place for extensions of assistance for families that exceed the time limit. Because states may define the terms "time limits," "exemptions," and "extensions" differently from one another and there is no standard definition under federal regulations, we will first define how these terms are used in this paper. We also show implementation dates of time limits in table 7.

Definition of Time Limits

In this paper, time limits refer to a period of cash assistance receipt, after which a family will no longer be able to receive the full benefit amount. In addition, we distinguish between time limits that terminate a family's benefit and those which reduce a family's benefit. These time limits differ from the work activity time limits described later, which require that a family participate in community service or other similar work activities within a specified time period in order to continue receiving assistance. As shown in table 6, some states have adopted lifetime time limits while others have adopted periodic time limits, (e.g., a family may only receive assistance for 24 months out of every 60-month period.) A few states have adopted both a periodic and a lifetime time limit. This is shown in table 6 as two separate rows for the state for cases in which the exemptions or extensions differ for the two time limits (e.g., Arizona and Florida).

Exemptions from Time Limits

Exemptions from time limits are criteria by which states exclude certain families from the time limit. These exemptions typically apply for the months in which the family meets one or more of the exemption criteria, so that such months do not count toward the time limit. For example, if a family is exempt because of a parent's disability or because the youngest child is less than one year of age, those months are not counted toward the time limit. But the exemption will no longer apply after the child's first birthday or if the person recovers from the disability.

Table 6 lists a variety of conditions that states may use to exempt a family from the time limit. This list is not based on federal regulations, but simply on the types of exemptions that states have used in designing their time limit policies. The table does not list exemptions that are required in all states under PRWORA, namely:

  • Families that do not contain an adult receiving assistance
  • Months of assistance received by an adult as a minor child not the head of household or married to the head of the household
  • Any month in which the family lived on an Indian reservation or in an Alaskan Native village with unemployment above 50 percent

Because of complications arising from state policies regarding the first and second of these federally specified exemptions, this paper does not list exemption policies related to teen parents or families of nonparent caretaker relatives.(17)

Table 6 also lists types of exemptions that states have used in designing their time limit policies. These exemptions fall under the following categories:

  • Age of parent/caretaker
  • Disability or illness of parent/caretaker
  • Caring for a disabled person
  • Caring for a young child
  • General hardship or other barriers to employment
  • No job available or high local unemployment
  • Victim of domestic violence
  • Other

The age exemption applies if the household head is above a certain age, often 60 years. The "general hardship" or "other barriers to employment" category is listed for many states whose policies include a vague statement exempting families that do not fit one of the first four specific causes for exemption. Alaska, for example, exempts families that are "suffering from a hardship"; Arkansas exempts families that have faced "extraordinary circumstances or barriers" to finding employment or families in which an exemption is necessary to protect a child from risk of neglect. The "no job available" or "high local unemployment" category is used by some states as a general policy to allow for cases in which a family cannot find employment despite good effort, and by other states as a trigger mechanism to suspend the time limit when local unemployment exceeds a specified level. For example, in Louisiana a family is exempt if the parent or parents have actively sought employment but have not been able to find work; in Delaware, time limits do not apply whenever the state unemployment rate exceeds the national average by at least two percentage points or when the state unemployment rate exceeds 7.5 percent.

Some states have not yet defined the criteria by which a family will be exempt from the time limit; these are shown in table 6 with exemptions "not specified." In some of these cases the state has explicitly mentioned in legislation or other documents that the specification of exemptions will be made at a later date, especially in states where the first time limits will not begin to apply for nearly five years. In other states, we found no explicit statement of intent to delay defining exemption criteria, but we also found no specification of the types of exemption criteria that would be used other than a reference to an exemption of up to 20 percent of the caseload.

Extensions to Time Limits

Extensions to time limits describe policies that allow a non exempt family that has exceeded the time limit to continue receiving assistance for an extended period. The distinction between an exemption and an extension is arbitrary in some cases, but for most states we have followed the language used by the state. Table 6 shows the criteria by which a family may qualify for an extension and the time period for which an extension may be granted. In a few states the length of the extension is not specified.

As shown in table 6, 45 states have a time limit for the termination of assistance for the entire family. In 25 of these states, the earliest termination time limit is 60 months. Nineteen states have a termination time limit of less than 60 months, including those with periodic time limits (such as 24 out of 60 months). Iowa has an individualized time limit that results in benefit termination after the time period set by the family and the department is reached. Four states--California, Maryland, New York, and Rhode Island--do not have a termination time limit; they continue to provide a reduced benefit to either the entire family or just the children after the state time limit is reached.(18) And two states, Michigan and Vermont, have no time limits under state law.

Table 6 shows the importance of considering not only the length of the time limit but also the exemptions and extensions used by the state to fully understand the effect of time limits on families. For example, Idaho and Oregon seem to have similar time limit policies when just the length of time of assistance is considered--24 months and 24 out of 84 months. However, in Idaho there are no exemptions to the 24-month time limit and extensions are provided only to families in which the adults in the unit are disabled, ill, or needed in the home to care for a disabled or ill family member. By contrast, families in Oregon are exempt from the time limit in any month in which the adults in the unit are disabled, needed in the home to care for a disabled family member, participating in work activities, or not participating but with good cause. Further, extensions are provided to any family that is making a good-faith effort to find employment. This implies that in Oregon many more families may continue to receive assistance after their first 24 months of receiving assistance.

Implementation Dates of Time Limits

Table 7 shows the date that each state adopted the time limit.(19) Time limits in states marked with an asterisk initially applied to selected counties or selected cases but were later expanded to cover the whole caseload. Two implementation dates are listed for states that implemented a time limit prior to PRWORA and then added a lifetime limit after PRWORA.

As shown in table 7, six states had time limits that began in selected counties or applied to a small proportion of the caseload and were later expanded statewide (Delaware, Florida, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia). Twelve states implemented time limits prior to the passage of PRWORA; six of these states added a lifetime limit under PRWORA. For example, Arizona implemented a time limit of 24 out of 60 months for families in 1995 and subsequently added a 60-month lifetime limit after PRWORA was enacted in 1996. The remaining states implemented time limits after PRWORA, with the exception of Michigan and Vermont, which have no time limit.

Table 6. State Time Limits, Exemptions, and Extensions


      Exemption Due To:

Extensions:

State Time
Limit

Benefit
Termination
or
Reduction
(BT/R)
Age Dis-
ability/
Illness
(D/I)
Caring
for
Disabled
Person
(CfDP)
Caring
for
Young
Child (Age)
(CfYC)
General
Hardship/
Other Personal
Barriers to
Employment
(GH/OPBE)
No Job
Available/
High Local
Unemploy-
ment
(NJA/HLU)
Victim
of
Domestic
Violence
(VDV)
Other Criteria for Extension Length of
Extension
(LoE)
State
Alabama 60 months Termination   X     X(93)       X (a) No extensions Alabama
Alaska 60 months Termination   X X   X   X   No extensions Alaska
Arizona 24 out of 60 months Reduction* X X X       X   1) Extra time needed to complete education or training;
2) Inability to find employment with good cause, including lack of transportation or child care
1) Up to 8 months;
2) 6 months, renewable
Arizona
  60 months Termination             X   No extensions
Arkansas 24 months Termination         X   X (b) Adult had been exempted or deferred from work activities according to work exemption criteria; child needs protection from the risk of neglect(94) Not specified Arkansas
State Time Limit BT/R Age D/I CfDP CfYC GHOPBE NJA/HLU VDV Other Criteria for Extension LoE State
California 60 months Reduction* X X X   X   (95)   No extensions   California
Colorado 60 months Termination   X X       X (c) No extensions Colorado
Connecticut 21 months Termination X X X X
(1 yr)(96)
X       Making a good faith effort to find employment; victims of domestic violence or other circumstances beyond family's control that prevent work 6 months, renewable Connecticut
Delaware 48 months Termination   X X     X     1) Agency failed to provide services specified in personal contract;
2) No suitable employment available or other unique circumstances
1) Months that agency failed contract;
2) 12 months
Delaware
District of Columbia 60 months Termination Not specified         No extensions   District of Columbia
Florida 24 out of 60 months(97) Termination         X       No extensions Florida
48 months Termination No exemptions No extensions
State Time Limit BT/R Age D/I CfDP CfYC GHOPBE NJA/HLU VDV Other Criteria for Extension LoE State
Georgia 48 months Termination   X     X   X   No extensions Georgia
Hawaii 60 months Termination X X X X
(6 mos)
        Making a good faith effort to find a job and fulfillment of work requirements 3 months, renewable Hawaii
Idaho 24 months Termination No exemptions Disability/illness or need to care for disabled/ill family member Unlimited Idaho
Illinois 24 months; re-eligible after 24 months Termination   X X X
(13 yrs)
        Participation in a "pay after performance" work program Not specified Illinois
60 months Termination               (d) No extensions  
Indiana 24 months Reduction* X X X X
(1 yr)(98)
      (e) Inability to find employment and compliance with program requirements, or unique circumstances beyond family's control(99) 1-12 months, renewable Indiana
  60 months Termination No exemptions No extensions
State Time Limit BT/R Age D/I CfDP CfYC GHOPBE NJA/HLU VDV Other Criteria for Extension LoE State
Iowa Individualized limit(100) Termination   X   X
(3 mos)
      (f) Making effort and satisfactory progress but unable to achieve self-sufficiency Not specified Iowa
Kansas 60 months Termination Not specified         No extensions  Kansas
Kentucky 60 months Termination   X X       X (g) Recipient loses job within 30 days of reaching time limit 3 months Kentucky
Louisiana 24 out of 60 months Termination   X     X X X   Extra time needed to complete education or training, or hardships that temporarily prevent employment Up to 1 year Louisiana
Maine 60 months Termination Not specified         No extensions   Maine
Maryland 60 months Reduction** Not specified(101)         No extensions   Maryland
Massachusetts 24 out of 60 months Termination   X   X
(2 yrs)(102)
  X     No extensions   Massachusetts
State Time Limit BT/R Age D/I CfDP CfYC GHOPBE NJA/HLU VDV Other Criteria for Extension LoE State
Michigan None(103) Not applicable Not applicable         Not applicable Michigan
Minnesota 60 months Termination X           X   No extensions Minnesota
Mississippi 60 months Termination X X X       X   No extensions   Mississippi
Missouri 60 months(104) Termination Not specified         No extensions   Missouri
Montana 60 months Termination X X X X
(1 yr)(105)
    X (h) No extensions   Montana
Nebraska 24 out of 48 months(106) Termination X X     X(107) X
(6 mos)
    X   No job available that would provide more income than cash assistance, termination would result in hardship, adults unable to meet conditions of self-sufficiency contract, or state failed to meet conditions of contract Not specified Nebraska
Nevada 24 months; re-eligible after 12 months Termination No exemptions         1) If extension will assist in becoming self sufficient;
2) qualified hardship(108)
1) Up to 6 months;
2) Once the hardship ends
Nevada
  60 months Termination No exemptions         Qualified hardship Once the hardship ends  
State Time Limit BT/R Age D/I CfDP CfYC GHOPBE NJA/HLU VDV Other Criteria for Extension LoE State
New Hampshire 60 months Termination             X   No extensions   New Hampshire
New Jersey 60 months Termination X X X   X   X   Extreme hardship, working full time, or lacked opportunity for participation in work activities Up to 12 cumulative months(109) New Jersey
New Mexico 36 months Termination   X X           No extensions   New Mexico
New York 60 months Reduction***   X         X   No extensions   New York
North
Carolina
24 out of 60 months Termination X X X X
(5 yrs)(110)
      (i) Compliance with personal responsibility contract, or non-compliance with good cause, but unable to find work "Month-to-month" extensions North Carolina
60 months Termination Not specified               No extensions  
North
Dakota
60 months Termination X X X       X   No extensions   North
Dakota
Ohio 36 months Termination             X(111)       24 months after reaching time limit, family may receive additional assistance if "good cause" exists, as determined by county(112) 24 months Ohio
State Time Limit BT/R Age D/I CfDP CfYC GHOPBE NJA/HLU VDV Other Criteria for Extension LoE State
Oklahoma 60 months Termination Not specified         No extensions   Oklahoma
Oregon 24 out of 84 months Termination   X    X(113)         (j) Making a good-faith effort to find employment Not specified Oregon
Pennsylvania 60 months Termination Not specified         No extensions   Pennsylvania
Rhode Island 60 months Reduction*         X       No extensions   Rhode Island
South
Carolina
24 out of 120 mos.; 60 months lifetime Termination   X X         (k) 1) Compliance with self-sufficiency plan but no employment available, and participating in work activity; or
2) completing an approved training program
1) 12 months;
2) up to 6 months(114)
South
Carolina
South  Dakota 60 months Termination   X   X

(12 wks)

      No extensions   South
Dakota
Tennessee 18 months(115) Termination X X X       X (l) 1) High county unemployment rates;
2) Cooperation with program requirements but job not available
1) 1-6 months;
2) Not specified
Tennessee
  60 months Termination X X X X (4 mos)     X (l) 1) Good cause;
2) Economic hardship county (twice the unadjusted unemployment rate of the state's average)
1) Indefinitely
2) up to 6 months
 
State Time Limit BT/R Age D/I CfDP CfYC GHOPBE NJA/HLU VDV Other Criteria for Extension LoE State
Texas 12, 24, or 36 months(116) Reduction*   X X   X(117) X(118)     No extensions    Texas
60 months Termination Not Specified         No extensions    
Utah 36 months Termination No exemptions         1) Employed 80 hours last month and during 6 of the previous 24 months of assistance;
2) Incapacitated or victim of domestic violence
1) Up to 24 months

2) As long as condition exits

 Utah
Vermont None Not applicable Not applicable         Not applicable    Vermont
Virginia 24 months; re-eligible after 2-3 years(119) Termination X X X X
(18 mos)
        Compliance with work requirements but unable to find or retain employment; or, participating in training related to employability; or, in area with unemployment rates above 10% 3-12 months(120)  Virginia
Washington 60 months Termination Not specified          No extensions  Washington
State Time Limit BT/R Age D/I CfDP CfYC GHOPBE NJA/HLU VDV Other Criteria for Extension LoE State
West
Virginia
60 months Termination Not specified         No extensions    West
Virginia
Wisconsin 60 months(121) Termination No exemptions              Local labor markets conditions preclude job opportunities or if participant has significant barriers that prevent employment Not specified  Wisconsin
Wyoming 60 months(122) Termination   X X          X(123)   Abandonment, or continuation of education leading to post-secondary degree One year  Wyoming

Source: Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.

Notes: This table does not list exemptions that are required in all states under PRWORA, namely:
1) families that do not contain an adult receiving assistance; 2) months of assistance received by an adult as a minor child not the head of household or married to the head of the household; and 3) any month in which the family lived on an Indian reservation or in an Alaskan Native village with unemployment above 50 percent. This table also does not list exemption policies related to teen parents or families of nonparent caretaker relatives.

* After family reaches the time limit, the adult portion of the benefit is eliminated but cash assistance is continued for the children in the unit.

** After family reaches the limit, the adult portion of the benefit is eliminated but a voucher payment or payment to representative payee is made for the children in the unit.

*** After family reaches the time limit, a voucher or restricted third-party payment is made for the entire family.

(a) Participating in substance abuse or mental health counseling.

(b) Recipient is unable to find a job due to lack of needed supportive services.

(c) Rules issued by the Colorado Department of Human Services state that exemptions include, "but are not limited to," those shown in this table.

(d) Family has earnings and is working at least 20 hours per week (increasing to 25 hours per week and 30 hours per week when federal participation rates increase).

(e) Participation in work activities would require a daily commuting time of more than two hours or the commute time generally accepted in that community, whichever is greater.

(f) Persons are exempt from the requirement to enter into a Family Investment Agreement, which specifies the time limit, if they are already working at least 30 hours per week.

(g) Grandparent in assistance unit caring for an eligible child who would otherwise be placed in foster care.

(h) The department has failed to comply with its obligations specified in the Family Investment Agreement.

(i) Persons unable to participate in work activities because the state cannot provide child care or transportation.

(j) Recipient is participating in work activity (JOBS), or not participating but with good cause.

(k) Child care or transportation is not "reasonably available."

(l) Caretaker is participating in Vocational Rehabilitation activities, or in substance abuse or mental health counseling, or the department fails to provide work activity or supportive services that make work participation possible.

Table 7. Time Limit Implementation Dates


State Time Limit
Implementation Date
State Time Limit
Implementation Date

Alabama 12/96       Montana 2/97
Alaska 7/97       Nebraska 11/95*(124)
Arizona 11/95; 10/96 (125)    Nevada 12/96
Arkansas 7/98       New Hampshire 10/96
California 1/98       New Jersey 4/97
Colorado 7/97       New Mexico 7/97
Connecticut 1/96       New York 12/96
Delaware 10/95*(126)    North Carolina 7/96; 1/97(127)
District of Columbia 3/97       North Dakota 7/97
Florida 2/94*; 10/96 (128)    Ohio 10/97
Georgia 1/97       Oklahoma 10/96
Hawaii 2/97       Oregon 7/96
Idaho 7/97       Pennsylvania 3/97
Illinois 2/96; 7/97 (129)    Rhode Island 5/97
Indiana 5/95; 6/97 (130)    South Carolina 10/96
Iowa 10/93       South Dakota 12/96
Kansas 10/96       Tennessee 10/96*(131)
Kentucky 10/96       Texas 6/96*; 11/96(132)
Louisiana 1/97       Utah 1/97
Maine 11/96       Vermont ---(133)
Maryland 1/97       Virginia 7/95*(134)
Massachusetts 12/96 (135)    Washington 8/97
Michigan --- (136)    West Virginia 1/97
Minnesota 7/97       Wisconsin 10/96
Mississippi 10/96       Wyoming 1/97
Missouri 7/97         

Source: Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.

* Time limit began in selected counties or with a limited number of cases and later expanded to cover all cases.


Work Requirements(20)

Increasing work participation among welfare recipients has been a major goal of state and federal welfare reforms. PRWORA encourages states to move recipients into work while also giving states the ability to develop their work requirements within broad federal parameters. This section discusses three aspects of work requirements: work exemptions based on the age of youngest child, work sanctions, and work requirement time limits.

Work Exemptions Based on the Age of Youngest Child

Under AFDC, nonexempt adult recipients receiving cash assistance were required to participate in the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) program. A recipient was considered exempt from participating in JOBS activities if the individual met one of a number of exemption criteria. The exemption rule responsible for the majority of exemptions was for primary caretaker relatives of children under three years of age (which could be lowered to one year at state option) or six years of age if child care was not guaranteed by the state.(21) Several states received waivers to alter their JOBS requirement exemption policies. A typical change to exemption rules was to lower the age of the youngest child that exempts the primary caretaker relative from participation, regardless of the availability of child care.

PRWORA eliminated the federal JOBS requirements, including exemption rules. In its place, PRWORA requires that all adult recipients participate in work activities (as defined by the state) within two years and that states meet specific work participation rates. To count as "working" for the participation rates, nonexempt recipients must participate in one of 12 work activities defined by federal law for a minimum number of hours per week (20 in FY 1997-98, 25 in 1999, and 30 in 2000 and thereafter).(22) Single parents of children under age six who are unable to obtain child care are exempt from the two-year work requirement under federal law, and states may set other exemptions at their discretion. States that choose to exempt single parents of children under one year old from the two-year work requirement, regardless of the availability of child care, may also omit them from the calculation of work participation rates. However, such parents may only be omitted from the calculation of work participation rates for a cumulative lifetime total of 12 months. Thus, if a parent has a second or third child while on assistance and the parent used the exemption during the infancy of a previous child, the parent may not be omitted from the work participation rate calculation during the time that child falls within the exemption age. Persons exempted from state work requirements due to other exemption criteria cannot be omitted from the calculation of work participation rates.

Table 8 lists for each state the age under which the youngest child must be in order to exempt a single parent from work requirements (the "exemption age").(23) Because only parents with children under one are omitted from the work participation rate calculations, states have a financial incentive to set the exemption age of one year or less. Twenty-six states set the exemption age at one year, 2 states set the exemption age at six months, 12 states set the exemption age near three months, and 5 states do not provide an exemption based on the age of the youngest child. Colorado allows counties to set the exemption age. Five states set the exemption age above one year. In addition, 18 states set a cumulative time limit on the number of months a single parent may receive an exemption based on caring for a young child.

Table 9 shows the implementation dates for changes to states' work exemption based on age of youngest child policy. As with tables in previous sections of the paper showing when policies were implemented, table 9 shows whether policies were adopted before 1992, between 1992 and the passage of PRWORA (August 1996), or after the passage of PRWORA. As noted previously, the time period between 1992 and the passage of PRWORA roughly corresponds to the time period in which states were implementing changes under waivers, although the provisions of some waivers that were approved prior to August 1996 were not implemented until states began their TANF program.

Table 9 shows that only three states still have in place an age-of-youngest-child exemption policy that began prior to 1992. Ten states have an age-of-youngest-child exemption policy that went into effect between January 1992 and August 1996. These states changed their policy either through amending their state JOBS plan or through waivers. Most states (38) have a policy that has been changed since the passage of PRWORA in August 1996. Some of these states had also changed their age-of-youngest-child exemption policy through waivers or state plan amendments but have since superseded such changes with more recent decisions. This table does not include changes states made limiting the total cumulative number of months a single parent could take this exemption. All of those changes were made after August 1996.

Table 8. Work Requirement Exemption Based on Age of Youngest Child


State Exempt While
Child under
Age:
Limited to
12 Total
Months
State Exempt While
Child under
Age:
Limited to
12 Total
Months

               
Alabama 1 year Montana No exemption
Alaska 1 year X Nebraska 3 months
Arizona 1 year X Nevada 1 year X
Arkansas 3 months X New Hampshire 3 years (137)
California 6 months (138) New Jersey 12 weeks (139)
Colorado County option (140) New Mexico 1 year X
Connecticut 1 year (141) New York 1 year      X (142)
Delaware 13 weeks North Carolina 1 year
Dist. of Columbia 1 year X North Dakota 3 months X
Florida 3 months Ohio 1 year X

State Exempt While
Child under
Age:
Limited to
12 Total
Months
State Exempt While
Child under
Age:
Limited to
12 Total
Months

Georgia No exemption Oklahoma 1 year X
Hawaii 6 months Oregon 90 days
Idaho No exemption Pennsylvania 1 year X
Illinois 1 year Rhode Island 1 year
Indiana 1 year (143) South Carolina 1 year (144)
Iowa No exemption South Dakota 12 weeks
Kansas 1 year Tennessee 4 months
Kentucky 1 year X Texas 4 years (145)
Louisiana 1 year X Utah No exemption
Maine 1 year X Vermont 18 months (146)
Maryland 1 year (147) Virginia 18 months (148)
Massachusetts 6 years (149) Washington 1 year (150) X
Michigan 3 months West Virginia 1 year (151)
Minnesota 1 year X Wisconsin 12 weeks
Mississippi 1 year X Wyoming 3 months X
Missouri 1 year

Source: Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.

Notes: Information in the table is for adults receiving TANF. Special provisions regarding two-parent families and teen custodial parents are not included. The ages listed are for full exemptions. States may also have partial exemptions for parents of young children that require fewer hours of work.

Table 9. Work Exemption Based on Age of Youngest Child Policy Implementation Dates


Implementation of
Current Policy


Implementation of
Current Policy


State Before
1/92
1/92–
8/96
After
8/96
State Before
1/92
1/92–
8/96
After
8/96

Alabama X Montana         X*(152)
Alaska X Nebraska         X*(153)
Arizona X Nevada X
Arkansas X New Hampshire X
California X New Jersey X
Colorado X New Mexico X
Connecticut X New York X
Delaware         X*(154) North Carolina X
District of Columbia X North Dakota X
Florida X Ohio X
Georgia X Oklahoma X
Hawaii X Oregon X
State Before
1/92
1/92–
8/96
After
8/96
State Before
1/92
1/92–
8/96
After
8/96

Idaho X Pennsylvania X
Illinois X Rhode Island X
Indiana X South Carolina X
Iowa X South Dakota X
Kansas X Tennessee X
Kentucky X Texas X
Louisiana         X (155) Utah         X*(155)
Maine X Vermont X
Maryland X Virginia         X*(156)
Massachusetts X Washington X
Michigan X West Virginia X
Minnesota X Wisconsin X
Mississippi X Wyoming X
Missouri X

Source: Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.

Note: This table refers only to the implementation of states' "exemption age." It does not reflect implementation of state policies limiting the total cumulative number of months a single parent could take this exemption.

* Work exemption policy regarding caring for a young child began in selected counties or with a limited number of cases and later expanded to cover all cases.

Work Sanctions

Under JOBS, mandatory participants who failed to comply with JOBS requirements without good cause faced a series of sanctions. The sanctions consisted of the removal of the adult from the unit for the purpose of benefit calculation for a specified period of time. The first sanction lasted until the affected recipient came into compliance, the second for at least three months, and the third and subsequent sanctions for at least six months.(24) Under waivers, sanction rules were generally made more severe by either extending the length of the sanction or increasing the size of the benefit reduction. A number of states began implementing full-benefit sanctions that not only removed the adult from the assistance unit but also eliminated the benefit for the entire family.

PRWORA eliminated federal JOBS sanction policy and stipulates that states are required to reduce the amount of assistance payable to the family pro rata (or more, at state option) for each month an individual receiving funds under TANF refuses to engage in work activities, subject to good cause and other exceptions set by the state. As a result, states have considerable flexibility in developing their sanction policies, including the length and amount of the sanctions.

Table 10 provides a summary of the sanction policies for noncompliance with work activities requirements chosen by each state. These sanction policies are described in detail in table A.2. In keeping with the former JOBS sanctions, most states continue to implement a progressively graduated sanction policy in which the severity of the sanctions increases with each successive instance of noncompliance. Some states also increase the severity of the sanction based on the length of time the recipient remains noncompliant. The two major dimensions of sanctions--the amount of the benefit that is sanctioned and the minimum length of the sanction--are summarized for both the initial sanction imposed and the most severe sanction imposed. Six states have kept the JOBS sanctions for their TANF program. Fourteen states have increased their initial sanction to a full-benefit sanction, while 36 have increased their most severe sanction to a full-benefit sanction. For the initial sanction, 23 states have continued to remove the sanction immediately after compliance with work activities requirements. An additional 20 remove the sanction after one month or compliance with work activities requirements, whichever is longer. The most severe sanctions imposed by the states also last longer in most cases, with only 10 states lifting the sanction immediately after compliance with work activities requirements. Seven states impose a lifetime sanction on continued noncompliance.

Table 11 shows the implementation dates for states' most recent changes in work requirement sanction policies. Six states have effectively maintained the standard JOBS sanctions as they were in place prior to 1992. Of those states that have altered work sanctions, 13 states are maintaining sanction policies that were implemented through waivers. Thirty-two states have created new sanction policies since the creation of TANF.

Table 10. Sanction Policies for Noncompliance with Work Activities Requirements


Initial Sanction(157)

Most Severe Sanction(158)

State Amount of Sanction
(Partial or Full
Benefit Reduction)
Minimum Length of Sanction(159)
(No. of months)
Amount
of Sanction
(Partial or Full
Benefit Reduction)
Minimum Length
of Sanction(159)
(No. of months)

Alabama              Partial *        Full 6
Alaska        Partial 1        Partial 12
Arizona        Partial 1        Full 1
Arkansas        Full(160) *        Full(160) 3
California        Partial *        Partial 6
Colorado(161)        Partial 1–3        Full 3–6
Connecticut        Partial 3        Full 3
Delaware        Partial *        Full Lifetime
District of Columbia        Partial *        Partial 6
Florida        Full *        Full 3
Georgia        Partial 1        Full Lifetime
Hawaii        Partial *        Partial 6
Idaho        Full 1        Full Lifetime
Illinois        Partial *        Full 3
Indiana        Partial 2        Partial 36
Iowa        Partial 3        Full 6

Initial Sanction(157)

Most Severe Sanction(158)

State Amount of Sanction
(Part/Full Ben. Reduct.)
Min. Length(159)
(No. of months)
Amount of Sanction
(Part/Full Ben. Reduct.)
Min. Length(159)
(No. of months)

Kansas        Full *        Full 2
Kentucky        Partial *        Full *
Louisiana        Partial 3        Full *
Maine        Partial *        Partial 6
Maryland        Full *        Full       1(162)
Massachusetts        Partial *        Full *
Michigan        Partial 1        Full 1
Minnesota        Partial 1        Partial 6
Mississippi        Full 2        Full Lifetime
Missouri        Partial *        Partial 6
Montana        Partial 1        Partial 12
Nebraska        Full 1        Full       12(163)
Nevada        Partial 1        Full Lifetime
New Hampshire        Partial ½        Partial ½
New Jersey        Partial 1        Full 3
New Mexico        Partial *        Full *
New York        Partial *        Partial 6
North Carolina        Partial 3        Partial 12
North Dakota        Partial 1        Full *

Initial Sanction(157)

Most Severe Sanction(158)

State Amount of Sanction
(Part/Full Ben. Reduct.)
Min. Length
(No. of months)
Amount of Sanction
(Part/Full Ben. Reduct.)
Min. Length
(No. of months)

Ohio        Full 1        Full 6
Oklahoma        Full *        Full *
Oregon        Partial *        Full *
Pennsylvania        Partial 1        Full Lifetime
Rhode Island        Partial *        Partial *
South Carolina        Full       1(164)        Full       1(164)
South Dakota        Partial 1        Full 1
Tennessee        Full *        Full 3
Texas        Partial 1        Partial 6
Utah        Partial *        Full *
Vermont        Partial *        Full *
Virginia        Full 1        Full 6
Washington        Partial       ½(165)        Partial       ½(165)
West Virginia        Partial 3        Full 6
Wisconsin        Partial/Full(166) *        Full Lifetime
Wyoming        Full 1        Full 1

Source: Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.

* Length of sanction is until compliance.

Table 11. Work Activities Sanction Policy Implementation Dates


Implementation of Current Policy

Implementation of Current Policy

State Before
1/92
1/92–
8/96
After
8/96
State Before
1/92
1/92–
8/96
After
8/96

Alabama X Montana            X*(167)
Alaska X Nebraska            X*(168)
Arizona X Nevada X
Arkansas X New Hampshire X
California X New Jersey X
Colorado X New Mexico X
Connecticut X New York X
Delaware          X*(169) North Carolina X
District of Columbia X North Dakota              X*(170)
Florida X Ohio X
Georgia X Oklahoma X
Hawaii X Oregon X
Idaho X Pennsylvania X

Implementation of Current Policy

Implementation of Current Policy

State Before
1/92
1/92–
8/96
After
8/96
State Before
1/92
1/92–
8/96
After
8/96

Illinois X Rhode Island X
Indiana X South Carolina X
Iowa X South Dakota X
Kansas X Tennessee X
Kentucky X Texas X
Louisiana X Utah             X*(171)
Maine X Vermont X
Maryland X Virginia             X*(172)
Massachusetts X Washington X
Michigan X West Virginia X
Minnesota X Wisconsin          X(173)
Mississippi X Wyoming X
Missouri X

Source: Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.

Note: This table refers only to implementation dates of sanction policies that affect the amount of benefit sanctioned or the length of sanction.

* Sanction policy began in selected counties or with a limited number of cases and later expanded to cover all cases.

Work Requirement Time Limits

Under AFDC, nonexempt recipients were required to participate in JOBS work activities once the state determined they were ready or as state resources permitted. In the years prior to TANF, states began to experiment with the timing of work activities. Several states implemented under waivers what are often referred to as "work-trigger" time limits, policies specifying that nonexempt recipients are required to participate in a work activity after a certain number of months as a condition of continued benefit receipt. Massachusetts, for example, had a waiver that required nonexempt recipients without children younger than six to participate in approved work activities after receiving assistance for 60 days.

Under TANF, nonexempt recipients are required to participate in work activities within 24 months, although states have the option to impose work requirements sooner. Most states have indicated that they will conform their programs to the federal 24-month limit. Typically, these states have indicated that they will require participation in work activities within 24 months or once the state has determined that the individual is ready to work, whichever is earlier. Other states require work within a shorter time frame; for example, North Carolina requires nonexempt recipients to participate in work activities within 90 days. However, comparing the timing of work requirements across states is difficult because the types of work activities required by each state after the work time limit vary to such an extent that simply comparing these time limits may be misleading based on the information sources used for this paper. Therefore, we will focus only on states that require recipients to participate only in employment or unpaid work experience after a set period of time.

The 10 states that require participation only in employment or unpaid work experience after a set period of time are shown in table 12, along with a description of when participation is required and the types of work activities that are allowed. All states included in the table except Wisconsin allow some time after the nonexempt recipient begins receiving assistance before requiring participation in employment or unpaid work experience. The time periods before employment or unpaid work experience is required vary from 60 days in Massachusetts to 30 months in Vermont. Three states— Delaware, Montana, and Rhode Island— require employment or unpaid work experience after 24 months.

Table 12. States Requiring Nonexempt Recipients to Engage in Employment or Unpaid Work Experience(174)


State When Is Work Required?(175) What Is Required?

California        18 months(176)        Unsubsidized employment or community service
Delaware        24 months        Pay-after-performance work experience in which benefit is based on hours worked
Massachusetts        60 days        Unsubsidized employment, subsidized employment, or community service
Montana        24 months        Unsubsidized employment or community service
New Hampshire        After 26 weeks of job search activities(177)        Unsubsidized employment, on-the-job training or alternative work experience
Rhode Island        24 months(178)        Unsubsidized employment, on-the-job training, community service, or department-approved training program conducted at a job site
South Dakota        2 months        Community service
Vermont        30 months        Unsubsidized employment or subsidized employment
Virginia        90 days        Unsubsidized employment, subsidized employment, or community work experience
Wisconsin        Immediately        Unsubsidized employment, trial jobs, or community service

Source: Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.


Payments

Benefit Amounts

Under AFDC, states were required to make cash assistance payments to all eligible families. Benefit levels were based on need standards, established by each state, that reflected the state's definition of the cost of meeting basic living needs for families of various sizes. However, states were not required to set AFDC payment levels equal to the full need standard, so the maximum payment for a family with no income was typically less than the need standard. Differences in the need standards and in the proportion of the need standard paid by each state resulted in large variations in state AFDC benefit levels. PRWORA did not directly address the issue of benefit levels in states, but it implicitly removed any requirement that states set benefits as a proportion of family needs. It also implicitly removed the requirement that states make any cash payments, giving states the flexibility to provide families with other assistance, such as vouchers or supportive services.

All states are continuing to issue cash payments to eligible families that comply with program requirements, restricting the use of vouchers to families subject to work sanctions, time limits, or family caps as described in other sections. Table 13 shows for each state the monthly benefit for a single parent and two children with no income as of October 1997 and July 1996. In October 1997, benefits vary from as high as $923 in Alaska to as low as $120 in Mississippi. The final column of table 13 shows how these benefit levels changed between July 1996 and October 1997. Only 11 states have changed their benefit levels, with 5 increasing benefits and 4 lowering benefits. In two states, TANF and food stamps benefits have been combined into a single benefit since July 1996. The remainder have retained the same benefit levels that were in effect in July 1996.

Table 13. Monthly Benefit for a Single Parent with Two Children and No Income, October 1997 and July 1996


State 1997 TANF Benefit 1996 AFDC Benefit Change in Benefit

Alabama $164 $164 nc
Alaska 923 923 nc
Arizona 347 347 nc
Arkansas 204 204 nc
California 565*(179) 594*(179) ($29)
Colorado 356(180) 356 nc
Connecticut 543* 543* nc
Delaware 338 338 nc
District of Columbia 379 415 (36)
Florida 303(181) 303(181) nc
Georgia 280 280 nc
Hawaii 712 712 nc
Idaho 276 317 (41)
Illinois 377* 377* nc
Indiana 288 288 nc
Iowa 426 426 nc
Kansas 429*(182) 429*(182) nc
Kentucky 262 262 nc
Louisiana 190 190 nc

State 1997 TANF Benefit 1996 AFDC Benefit Change in Benefit

Maine 418 418 nc
Maryland 388 373 15
Massachusetts 565(183) 565(183) nc
Michigan 459* 459* nc
Minnesota 763** 532 (184)
Mississippi 120 120 nc
Missouri 292 292 nc
Montana 450 438 12
Nebraska 364 364 nc
Nevada 348 348 nc
New Hampshire 550(185) 550(185) nc
New Jersey 424 424 nc
New Mexico 389 389 nc
New York 577* 577* nc
North Carolina 272 272 nc
North Dakota 740** 431 (186)
Ohio 341 341 nc

State 1997 TANF Benefit 1996 AFDC Benefit Change in Benefit

Oklahoma 307 307 nc
Oregon 460 460 nc
Pennsylvania 403* 403* nc
Rhode Island 554 554 nc
South Carolina 201 200 1
South Dakota 430 430 nc
Tennessee 185 185 nc
Texas 188 188 nc
Utah 426 426 nc
Vermont 611* 597* 14
Virginia 291* 291* nc
Washington 546 546 nc
West Virginia 253 253 nc
Wisconsin 628(187) 517 111(188)
Wyoming 340(189) 360 (20)

Source: Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.

* Benefit varies by county or city within the state. The amount shown is the benefit level for the area containing the largest portion of the state population.

** TANF and food stamps are issued as a combined benefit.

"nc" indicates no change.

Numbers in parentheses indicate a reduction in benefits.

Earnings Disregards

Under AFDC, states were required to disregard a portion of recipients' earned income when determining benefit amounts to provide an earnings incentive. Benefits for recipients were calculated using earnings minus a $90 work expense disregard, followed by a disregard of $30 and one-third of remaining earnings. After four months of consecutive earnings, recipients were no longer eligible for the one-third disregard, so the disregard was simply $120 ($90 and $30). After eight additional months of consecutive earnings, recipients were no longer eligible for the $30 disregard, so the disregard was simply $90.(25) Under waivers, a number of states made changes to this disregard structure, typically increasing the amount of earnings disregarded and eliminating the phaseout of the disregard over time.

PRWORA did not address the issue of earnings disregards specifically, but the creation of TANF gave states the freedom to adopt any disregard structure. As shown in table 14, 42 states have earnings disregards that differ from the standard AFDC disregard. Most of these states have eliminated the disregard phaseout period, so that the amount of earnings disregarded is the same for all months; only eight have disregards that decrease over time (Alabama, Alaska, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, and Ohio). Nine states have kept the $90 and "$30 & one-third" disregards that were the rule for AFDC.(26)

Table 15 shows implementation dates for the earnings disregard policy changes. As with tables in previous sections of the paper showing when policies were implemented, table 15 shows whether policies were adopted before 1992, between 1992 and the passage of PRWORA (August 1996), or after the passage of PRWORA. The time period between 1992 and the passage of PRWORA roughly corresponds to the time period in which states were implementing changes under waivers, although some waivers that were approved prior to August 1996 were not implemented until the state began its TANF program.

Table 15 shows that nine states currently have in place an earnings disregard policy that began prior to 1992. All of those states are continuing to use the standard AFDC disregards. Of the remaining 42 states that have earnings disregards differing from the standard AFDC disregards, 11 are keeping policies that they began under waivers during the period between 1992 and the passage of PRWORA. The other 31 states have created new earnings disregard policies under TANF.

Table 14. Earnings Disregard Policies for TANF Recipients


State Earnings Disregard Policy

Alabama Disregard 100 percent for first three months of earnings; 20 percent in subsequent months(190)
Alaska Disregard $150 and 33 percent of the remainder in months 1–12; $150 and 25 percent (months 13–24); $150 and 20 percent (months 25–36); $150 and 15 percent ( months 37–48); $150 and 10 percent (months 49–60); $150 after 60 months
Arizona Disregard $90 and 30 percent of the remainder
Arkansas Disregard 20 percent and 50 percent of the remainder
California Disregard $225 and 50 percent of the remainder
Colorado *
Connecticut All earnings below poverty are disregarded; family is eligible as long as earnings are below poverty
Delaware *
District of Columbia *
Florida Disregard $200 and 50 percent of the remainder
Georgia *
Hawaii Disregard 20 percent, then $200, then 36 percent of the remainder
Idaho Disregard 40 percent
Illinois Disregard 67 percent
Indiana *
Iowa Disregard 20 percent and 50 percent of the remainder
Kansas Disregard $90 and 40 percent of the remainder
Kentucky Disregard 100 percent for the first two months of earnings; use AFDC disregards after that ($120 and one-third, with phaseout)
Louisiana Disregard $1,020 for first six months of earnings; $120 after six months
Maine In eight counties, disregard 20 percent and $134 of the remainder; in the other eight counties, disregard $150 and 50 percent of remaining earnings that are less than the federal poverty level
Maryland Disregard 26 percent
Massachusetts Disregard $120 and 50 percent(191) of the remainder
Michigan Disregard $200 and 20 percent of the remainder
Minnesota Disregard 36 percent
Mississippi Disregard 100 percent of earnings for the first six months when full-time employment is obtained within 30 days from the initial authorization of TANF benefits or 30 days from the start date of job readiness/job search activities; otherwise, disregard $90
Missouri *
Montana Disregard $200 and 25 percent of the remainder (192)
Nebraska Disregard 20 percent
Nevada Disregard 100 percent for the first three months of earnings; 50 percent for the next nine months; $90 or 20 percent (whichever is greater) after 12 months
New Hampshire Disregard 50 percent
New Mexico Disregard $150 & 50 percent of the remainder
New Jersey Disregard 100 percent for first month of earnings; 50 percent in subsequent months
New York Disregard $90 and 42 percent of the remainder
North Carolina *
North Dakota Disregard 27 percent followed by an additional employment incentive disregard that varies based on family size and earnings
Ohio Disregard $250 and 50 percent of the remainder for 18 months
Oklahoma Disregard $120 and 50 percent of the remainder
Oregon Disregard 50 percent
Pennsylvania Disregard 50 percent
Rhode Island Disregard $170 and 50 percent of the remainder
South Carolina *
South Dakota Disregard $90 and 20 percent of the remainder
Tennessee Disregard $150
Texas *
Utah Disregard $100 and 50 percent of the remainder
Vermont Disregard $150 and 25 percent of the remainder
Virginia Benefit is flat amount as long as net income (earnings minus AFDC disregards) plus the benefit is less than poverty level; if benefit plus net income is greater than the poverty level, then the benefit is reduced such that the benefit plus earnings equals the poverty level; if earnings are greater than the poverty level, then family is ineligible(193)
Washington Disregard 50 percent
West Virginia Disregard varies by amount of earned income; average disregard is 40 percent
Wisconsin (194)
Wyoming Disregard $200 for single parents and $400 for married couples

Source: Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.

Note: This table refers to earnings disregard policies for TANF recipients; earnings disregard policies may be different for applicant families. Child care expense deductions are not included in this table. All disregards are without time limit unless otherwise indicated.

* State has retained AFDC disregards as follows: Disregard $120 and one-third of the remainder for the first four months of earnings; $120 for the next eight months (months 5–12); $90 after 12 months.

Table 15. Earnings Disregard Policy Implementation Dates


Implementation of
Current Policy


Implementation of
Current Policy

State Before
1/92
1/92–
8/96
After
8/96
State Before
1/92
1/92–
8/96
After
8/96

Alabama X Montana           X*(195)
Alaska X Nebraska X
Arizona X Nevada X
Arkansas X New Hampshire X
California X New Jersey X
Colorado X New Mexico X
Connecticut X New York X
Delaware X North Carolina X
District of Columbia X North Dakota X
Florida         X*(196) Ohio           X(197)
Georgia X Oklahoma X
Hawaii X Oregon X
Idaho X Pennsylvania X

Implementation of
Current Policy


Implementation of
Current Policy

State Before
1/92
1/92–
8/96
After
8/96
State Before
1/92
1/92–
8/96
After
8/96

Illinois X Rhode Island X
Indiana X South Carolina X
Iowa X South Dakota X
Kansas X Tennessee X
Kentucky X Texas X
Louisiana X Utah         X*(198)
Maine X Vermont X
Maryland        X(199) Virginia         X*(200)
Massachusetts X Washington X
Michigan X West Virginia X
Minnesota        X(201) Wisconsin X
Mississippi X Wyoming X
Missouri X

Source: Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.

* New earnings disregard policy began in selected counties or with a limited number of cases and later expanded to cover all cases.

Family Caps

Under AFDC, benefits for a family automatically increased when an additional child was born into the unit. Under waivers, however, some states implemented a family cap that either eliminated or reduced the additional benefit for children who were conceived while the mother was receiving assistance. PRWORA did not specifically address family caps, giving states the latitude to choose whether or not to implement a family cap.

Table 16 shows the 22 states that have family cap provisions under TANF and some of the variations in how states implement their family caps. Seventeen of the states with family caps provide no additional benefits to the unit for children born 10 months after the family begins receiving assistance. Of these, two states (Idaho and Wisconsin) have implicit family caps because the size of the cash assistance benefit does not vary with family size--although in Idaho this only applies to families without earnings. Two other states, Connecticut and Florida, provide a partial increase in benefits for these children.(27) Oklahoma and South Carolina do not provide additional cash assistance for children conceived while on assistance, but they do give vouchers to the families for food and clothing equal to the amount they otherwise would have received in cash. Maryland does not provide the incremental increase in cash benefits to the mother, but the additional benefits are paid to a third party, such as a community group or church, on behalf of the additional child. Two states, Arizona and New Jersey, allow capped families to replace the loss of the increase in benefits for the additional child with earnings without a subsequent decrease in benefit amount.

Table 17 shows the implementation dates for the states with family caps under TANF. Of the 22 states with a family cap, 15 had a family cap in place prior to the passage of PRWORA in August 1996. The other seven states did not implement a family cap until after PRWORA; however, all but three states (Idaho, North Dakota, and Oklahoma) had received permission for a family cap under waivers. Some changes in how states impose their family caps have occurred between their initial implementation dates and their current provisions under TANF. Most notable was the change made in Wisconsin from an explicit family cap to a fixed benefit structure in which assistance received is not based on family size. Two other changes are also worth noting. While most states had a 10-month period after initial receipt of assistance during which a child could be born and not be subject to the family cap, Georgia had allowed a 24-month grace period under the wavier. Under TANF, however, the state is reducing its grace period to the 10-month standard adopted by other states. Delaware plans to apply its family cap to first-time minor mothers; all other states exempt them under their waivers and TANF plans.

Table 16. States with Family Cap Provisions


State

No Increase in
Assistance for
Additional Children
Partial Increase
in Cash Assistance
for Additional
Children
Increase in
Assistance for
Additional Child
Provided as
Voucher
Increase in Cash
Assistance for
Additional Child
Provided to Third Party

Arizona   X*
Arkansas X
California X
Connecticut    X202
Delaware X
Florida      X203
Georgia X
Idaho        X**204
Illinois X
Indiana X
Maryland      X205
Massachusetts X
Mississippi X
Nebraska X
New Jersey   X*
North Carolina X
North Dakota X
Oklahoma X
South Carolina X
Tennessee     X206
Virginia X
Wisconsin    X**

Source: Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.

* State allows capped families to replace the loss of the increase in benefits for the additional child with earnings without a subsequent decrease in benefit amount.

** State provides a flat benefit regardless of family size.

Table 17. Family Cap Implementation Dates


State Current Family Cap
Implementation Date
State Current Family Cap
Implementation Date

Arizona 11/95     Massachusetts 11/95    
Arkansas 7/94     Mississippi 10/95    
California 9/97     Nebraska 11/95(207)
Connecticut 1/96     New Jersey 10/92    
Delaware 10/95(208) North Carolina 7/96    
Florida 10/96     North Dakota 7/98    
Georgia 1/94(209) Oklahoma 10/96    
Idaho 7/97(210) South Carolina 10/96    
Illinois 12/95(211) Tennessee 9/96(212)
Indiana 5/95     Virginia 7/95    
Maryland 3/96     Wisconsin 1/96(213)

Source: Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.

Child Support Pass-Through

Under AFDC, families applying for assistance assigned their child support rights to the state. Child support payments made by a noncustodial parent were thus paid to the child support agency rather than the AFDC family. If the child support payment was not large enough to disqualify the family from AFDC, the first $50 of the child support payment was paid to the AFDC family each month as a "pass-through." In addition, the pass-through was disregarded in the families' benefit computation. The remaining portion of the child support payment that was not paid to the AFDC family was split between the state and federal governments as reimbursement for monthly cash assistance payments. Under waivers, some states changed the pass-through amount and other states treated child support payments as unearned income, disregarding some portion of the payment for the purposes of benefit computation.

PRWORA repealed the federal law requiring the $50 pass-through. Under PRWORA, a portion of the child support payment is paid to the federal government based on the Medicaid match rate in effect in September 1996. The remaining portion of the payment is kept by the states. States may choose to discontinue the pass-through or maintain the pass-through at their own expense.

Table 18 shows that 18 states have maintained the $50 pass-through that originated under AFDC, but four of those states have maintained the pass-through on a temporary basis. Thirty-three states have changed the pass-through amount significantly. Of those, 29 states discontinued the child support pass-through completely and one state (Kansas) maintains the child support pass-through at a reduced level, passing through $40 of the child support payment to the families. Two states increased the pass-through amount (Connecticut and Nevada), and one state (Wisconsin) passes through the entire child support payment, allowing families to keep a larger portion of the child support payment each month without lowering the families' cash assistance benefits.

Table 18. Amount of Child Support Pass-Through


State Amount of Child
Support Pass-Through
State Amount of Child
Support Pass-Through
Alabama $ 50          Montana                *                 
Alaska 50 (214) Nebraska *
Arizona * Nevada $ 75
Arkansas * New Hampshire *
California 50 New Jersey 50
Colorado * New Mexico 50 **
Connecticut 100 New York 50
Delaware 50 North Carolina *
District of Columbia * North Dakota *
Florida * Ohio *
Georgia * Oklahoma 50 (215)
Hawaii * Oregon *
Idaho * Pennsylvania 50 (216)
Illinois 50 Rhode Island 50
Indiana * South Carolina *
Iowa * (217) South Dakota *
Kansas 40 Tennessee *
Kentucky * Texas 50
Louisiana * Utah *
Maine 50 Vermont * (218)
Maryland * Virginia 50
Massachusetts 50 Washington *
Michigan 50 ** West Virginia 50 (219)
Minnesota * Wisconsin   Entire grant(220)      
Mississippi * Wyoming *
Missouri 50 **

Sources: Office of Child Support Enforcement, "Child Support Report," December, 1997; and Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.

* State discontinued the child support pass-through.

** The child support pass-through is only in effect temporarily in these states.


Administration

Potential for County-Level Variation in Program Rules

The TANF block grant gives states greater flexibility than they had under AFDC to allow for differences in cash assistance programs across localities within a state. Under AFDC there were often differences across the state regarding the work and training programs that were offered to AFDC recipients, as well as the availability of supportive services such as child care. Also, the amount of the benefit payment often varied due to differences in the cost of living within the state. However, program rules related to the determination of eligibility and benefits were required to be uniform across the state. Under waivers, some intrastate variation in program rules occurred because pilot programs were run in selected counties, but these waivers were granted only with federal permission and with the intention of testing the benefits of the waiver provisions.

Under TANF, states have the flexibility to operate cash assistance programs that differ across localities within the state. The differences that existed under AFDC regarding work programs and supportive services will likely remain, but now states also have the option to vary rules related to basic eligibility, work requirements, and time limits. In this section we will not attempt to describe differences in work programs and the availability of supportive services within states because these differences are difficult to determine using state TANF plans, legislation, and regulation.(28) We will, however, describe state policies that specifically allow counties to make their own decisions regarding program eligibility rules, benefit payment methods, work program exemptions or sanctions, time limit policies, or other policies determined in most states by the state department responsible for TANF administration.

We have identified two ways in which states delegate to counties responsibility for determining program rules. First, a state may allow each county to make a policy decision within the bounds established by the state regarding that provision; for example, a state may allow counties to vary the work exemption age for the parent of a young child, provided that it does not exceed 12 months. The states that have allowed these types of county options are shown in table 19. Second, a state may allow counties to apply for waivers from state program rules and implement their own program rules with state permission. The states allowing for county waivers are shown in table 20.

Table 19 lists five states that have given counties options with respect to basic program rules. Four states (California, Colorado, Minnesota, and New York) have given counties options regarding exemptions from work activities and sanctions for noncompliance. Four states (California, Colorado, Minnesota, and Ohio) have given counties flexibility in designing certain aspects of their diversion assistance programs. Three states (California, Colorado, and Minnesota) have given counties the option to exempt victims of domestic violence from at least some program requirements.

Table 20 lists 5 states that allow counties to apply for a waiver from state program rules.(29) California and Colorado allow counties to obtain waivers, but they will not allow waivers that alter basic eligibility rules and cash assistance amounts. Maryland, New York, and North Carolina do not have specific restrictions of this type; however, the state must approve the plans developed by counties. North Carolina also specifically limits the number of counties that may receive state approval to operate their own plans by limiting the number of recipients in counties running their own programs to 15.5 percent of the total state caseload.

Table 19. Program Rules Determined by Counties*


California
  • Counties may increase the work requirement exemption age for parents of young children from 6 months up to 12 months, or they may reduce it to 12 weeks.
  • For families receiving diversion assistance payments, counties may establish the amount of assistance and the form of the payment.
  • Counties may exempt victims of domestic violence from any program requirements that put them at risk of further abuse, including time limits and work requirements.

Colorado
  • Counties may require participation in work activities at any time within 24 months.
  • Counties may determine exemptions from work requirements.
  • Counties may set the time period for sanctions at 1–3 months for the first two sanctions and 3–6 months for subsequent sanctions; they may also increase the work sanction amount for the first two sanctions from a partial to a full-benefit sanction.
  • Counties may offer diversion assistance payments for families eligible for cash assistance and/or families ineligible for cash assistance, and counties determine most of the rules for these programs.
  • Counties may supplement the basic cash assistance grant (which is set by the state) with other assistance intended to promote sustainable employment in the form of cash or supportive services.
  • Counties may waive any program requirements, except work requirements, for victims of domestic violence.

Minnesota
  • Counties determine eligibility for diversion assistance payments.
  • Counties decide when to exempt victims of domestic violence from time limits and work requirements.
  • Counties determine time line for participation in work activities within six months.
  • For the second and subsequent sanctions for noncompliance with work requirements, counties have the option of paying utility costs as a vendor payment (they are required to pay rent as a vendor payment).

New York
  • Counties may increase the work requirement exemption age for parents of young children from three months to 12 months.
  • Counties have the option to run the Child Assistance Program, which alters program rules for single parents who have a child support order and volunteer for the program.(221)

Ohio
  • Counties establish criteria for time limit exemptions and determine for each family whether good cause exists for granting an extension to time limits.
  • Counties must design a prevention, retention, and contingency program that provides diversion assistance and other services to families, and they may adopt the model designed by the state or create their own program.

Source: Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.

* This table does not include information on county variation in the availability of child care, support services or work program activities.

Table 20. States Allowing Counties to Obtain Waivers of TANF Program Rules


California Counties may receive permission to operate three-year pilot projects to test alternative service delivery methods, however pilot programs must offer job search, work experience, and supportive services programs and waivers may not be granted in several areas, including restriction of eligibility or reduction of grant levels; dispute resolution, sanctions, or penalties; and child support provisions.

Colorado Counties may receive waivers to improve methods of achieving self-sufficiency, meeting work participation requirements, or reducing dependency. Rules may be waived for any program provisions other than statewide eligibility rules; the amount of the basic cash assistance grant; elimination of participants' right to appeal; and requirements under federal law.

Maryland Counties may request waivers from the state to change any FIP (Maryland's TANF program) statutes or regulations for a maximum two-year period as long as the proposed changes are cost neutral, promote the goals of FIP, and do not conflict with federal regulations.

New York The Local Flexibility Incentive Pilot Program allows counties to develop programs that are innovative or more efficient at moving recipients towards self-sufficiency, and to request waivers from the state for any program rules that are barriers to the success of the program.

North Carolina Counties may submit plans to the state for approval that would allow them to design their own cash assistance program. Provisions that may differ from the state program include eligibility criteria, benefit levels, time limits, and work program requirements and sanctions. The state will approve county plans such that no more than 15.5 percent of the state's total caseload is in counties operating their own programs.

Source: Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.


NOTES

1. For the purposes of this report, the District of Columbia is considered a state.

2. The information in this paper reflects state TANF policy decisions. For some program rules, it will be some time before we know when these are implemented.

3. For New Mexico, the program described in this paper is the PROGRESS program. However, implementation of PROGRESS was blocked in September by the state Supreme Court, and the state is operating its old AFDC program until legislative action can be taken.

4. In some states there may be areas in which the state is conducting a demonstration or pilot program with rules that differ from those in the rest of the state. Examples include the Work First demonstration program in selected counties in Minnesota and a program in certain counties in Tennessee that alters certain asset rules. These demonstrations and pilots are not described in this paper.

5. Asset rules may differ for families applying for assistance and families who are already receiving assistance. This section discusses only asset rules for recipient families.

6. Applicants were treated somewhat differently from recipients in that the earnings disregard used for the net income test, as described below, was only $90. However, in this paper only the income eligibility tests for recipients are described.

7. The meaning of the term "payment standard" differs across states, but in this paper (as in most states) it refers to the amount from which net income is subtracted in order to compute the benefit. (In many states, the payment standard is less than the need standard. In no state is it greater than the need standard.) For example, if the payment standard is $400 and net income is $100, then the benefit would be computed by subtracting $100 from $400. Therefore if net income were to exceed $400 the family would not be eligible.

8. Income eligibility limits may be different for applicant families. For families with unearned income, the income eligibility limits are generally lower because a portion of earnings is disregarded in at least some of the eligibility tests. Families with child care expenses receive additional earned income disregards in some states, which would increase the income eligibility limits for these families.

9. Again, this assumes the family has no unearned income or child care expenses and meets all other eligibility criteria. In addition, most states do not pay benefits of less than $10, with the result that actual benefit eligibility ends at a slightly lower level in these states.

10. For states with waivers that affected income eligibility limits, the waiver policy is only shown if the policy was in effect in the majority of the state.

11. In two states, Minnesota and North Dakota, direct comparisons of income eligibility limits are difficult because under the states' TANF programs TANF and food stamps assistance are issued as a combined benefit with one integrated set of eligibility rules. Therefore the income limits are higher than they had been under AFDC because food stamps eligibility limits (which are set at the federal level) are higher than AFDC limits.

12. There are three types of programs that seek to divert TANF applicants from ongoing cash assistance and are typically referred to as "diversion programs": (1) "applicant job search," which requires those applying for TANF assistance to seek out employment before eligibility for cash assistance is granted; (2) "diversion support services," which provide only support services, such as medical care, child care, or transportation assistance, to persons with short-term needs who do not require cash assistance; and (3) "lump-sum diversion assistance payments," which are described in this chapter. States may also operate an emergency assistance program that offers assistance similar to a diversion program. However, those programs are usually not specifically intended to divert families from ongoing cash assistance and are not included in this report. Finally, diversion assistance should not be confused with grant diversion programs, the name some states give to the process of subsidizing private-sector jobs for TANF recipients through diverting the recipient's grant to the employer.

13. Two-parent families may be treated differently from single-parent families in other program areas, such as work requirements. Only eligibility issues will be discussed in this section.

14. The 27 states (plus the District of Columbia) that operated an Unemployed Parent program as of September 26, 1988, were required to continue operating the program without any time limit on eligibility.

15. The exception was for two-parent unemployed parent cases, which in some states were limited to six months of assistance in any 12-month period. This section discusses only time limits that apply to all families, not the restrictions that may apply only to two-parent families in states that retain this policy under TANF.

16. The Department of Health and Human Services has issued regulations describing which state funds that count toward the maintenance-of-effort requirement may be used to provide assistance to families without regard to the 60-month time limit. A description of these regulations is found in "The New Framework: Alternative State Funding Choices under TANF," Steve Savner and Mark Greenberg, Center for Law and Social Policy.

17. Complications may arise with regard to policies for teen parents and nonparent caretaker relatives because we do not have complete information at this time regarding which family members are considered part of the assistance unit for cases in which the primary adult is not a parent or in which a teen parent lives with his/her parent. Such families could be exempt from time limits either through specific state regulation or by defining the assistance unit such that the unit is a child-only case (in the case of the nonparent caretaker) or such that the teen parent is not considered the head of household. Because consistency in understanding state policies for these families is therefore difficult and beyond the scope of this paper, exemptions for these families are omitted.

18. New York recipients may be eligible for continued assistance past the federal 60-month time limit under the state Safety Net Assistance program, which provides the full benefit to the entire family, but payment is made in the form of vouchers or other restricted payments.

19. This table shows the dates that the states adopted their particular time limits. It must be noted that the federal lifetime time limit—60 months—may take precedence, at least as far as limiting states' ability to spend federal TANF dollars to provide cash assistance for particular families.

20. The following discussion primarily concerns work requirements for single adult parents receiving AFDC/TANF. Special provisions regarding two-parent families and teen custodial parents are not discussed.

21. States were required to specify in their JOBS state plan if they elected to lower the age of the child for whom the caretaker relative may receive an exemption and the age to which the exemption had been lowered. In 1996, prior to the PRWORA legislation, a majority of the states had not elected to lower the age below three years. Recipients were also exempt from JOBS if they were under 16; under 18 and in school; ill or incapacitated; 60 or older; residing in a location where JOBS was not available; caretakers of a disabled family member; working for 30 or more hours per week; pregnant and in at least the second trimester; or full-time VISTA volunteers.

22. The 12 activities include unsubsidized employment; subsidized private employment; subsidized public employment; work experience; on-the-job training; job search and job readiness, for up to six weeks; community service; vocational education, for a maximum of 12 months; provision of child care to TANF recipients; job skills training; education directly related to employment; and high school education or its equivalent. However, only the first nine activities count toward the first 20 hours of work activities participation per week.

23. The exemptions in table 8 refer to full exemptions. Some states also have partial exemptions that require fewer hours of work for parents of young children. In Nebraska, for example, parents are required to participate part-time in work activities once the youngest child reaches three months of age and to participate full time in work activities once the child reaches six months of age.

24. The length of the second and subsequent sanctions was the number of months stated or until compliance, whichever was longer.

25. Under AFDC, recipients were also allowed to disregard child care expenses up to $175 per month per child ($200 for children under age two). This section will focus only on earnings disregards.

26. Some states, most notably Delaware, have adopted "fill-the-gap" policies under TANF to allow the recipient to keep a greater portion of the benefit as net income (i.e., income after disregards) increases, while using the same earnings disregard policy as under AFDC. Other states had fill-the-gap policies under AFDC and have retained that benefit structure under TANF. This alternative method for increasing earnings incentives is not reflected in table 14.

27. Connecticut provides approximately 50 percent of the increase in benefits for each additional child. Florida provides 50 percent of the increase for the first additional child; no further increases in benefits are provided after the first additional child.

28. We also will not discuss the use of local boards in states with state-administered systems created for the purpose of planning and organizing program implementation at the local level. Florida's WAGES coalitions are one example of the use of local planning boards. These systems are beyond the scope of this paper because they do not affect the program rules faced by families receiving assistance under TANF.

29. Indiana has enacted legislation that will allow local planning councils (typically at the county level) to seek permission from the state to operate demonstration projects. This is not included in table 20 because it is unclear from the information sources used for this paper which program rules, if any, could be waived by the state.

30. The asset limit is $2,000 for assistance units without a member age 60 or over, and $3,000 assistance units with a member age 60 or over.

31. The value of one vehicle per licensed driver in an assistance unit is exempt.

32. Any vehicle needed for family transportation, as a home, to produce self-employment income, to transport a disabled person, or to participate in approved work activities is exempt.

33. The value of one vehicle up to $3,889 for each adult and working teenage child is exempt.

34. The value of up to two vehicles if "necessary as a condition of employment" is exempt.

35. The asset limit is effective 1/1/98. Prior to 1/1/98 the asset limit is $1,000.

36. The vehicle exemption is effective 1/1/98. Prior to 1/1/98 the vehicle exemption is $4,650.

37. This is the asset limit for families with self-sufficiency agreements.

38. All other income-producing vehicles are exempt.

39. The asset limit is $4,000 for a single individual and $6,000 for two or more individuals.

40. The value of one vehicle per adult in an assistance unit is exempt.

41. The asset limit is $2,000 for most families and $3,000 for families in which any member is over the age of 60.

42. The asset limit is $5,000 for a single individual and $8,000 for two or more individuals.

43. The asset limit of $2,500 is increased to $10,000 for families with at least one Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) participant who is progressing in his/her self-sufficiency plan.

44. The state allows participants in JOBS Plus to establish an IDA to be used for education.

45. Rhode Island state law provides for a statewide pilot program that allows recipients to keep up to $2,500 in an IDA for micro-enterprise, but the program is limited to 30 recipients.

46. The value of a second vehicle up to $4,650 is exempt when it is used for employment or training by another member of the assistance unit.

47. The asset limit is $2,000 for most families and $3,000 if an elderly or disabled person is in the household.

48. The entire value of a vehicle is exempt when it is equipped to transport a disabled household member.

49. The account is restricted to savings from earnings, but there is no restriction on what the savings may be used for.

50. The vehicle exemption shown is based on rules that apply to families subject to the time limit. The vehicle exemption is $1,500 for families exempt from the time limit.

51. The entire value of a vehicle is exempt when it is equipped to transport a disabled household member.

52. The entire value of a vehicle is exempt when it is used for employment or to transport a disabled household member.

53. The value of a second vehicle up to $12,000 is exempt for married couples.

54. The asset limit policy began early in 1996 in eight counties and was phased in statewide by 2/97.

55. The asset limit policy began in 1996 in 11 counties and is scheduled to be phased in by 1/98.

56. The implementation date of the asset limit policy is unknown but known to be after 10/96 TANF implementation.

57. This asset limit policy began early in 1995 in six counties and was phased in statewide by 7/96.

58. This asset limit policy began early in 1993 in seven counties and was phased in statewide by 7/96.

59. This asset limit policy began early in 1997 in nine counties and is scheduled to expand to statewide by 1/98.

60. This policy will be implemented statewide by 1/98. Until then, the IV-A asset limit is used statewide.

61. There is no income limit in the first month of earnings only if the recipient timely and accurately reports receipt of the earnings.

62. Limit is based on rules that apply to families subject to the time limit. Income eligibility limits are lower for families exempt from the time limit.

63. Recipients with incomes in excess of the income limits shown (but less than $1,785 in the 1st month of earnings and $1,200 in the 13th month of earnings) are still considered eligible for TANF and TANF-related services but will not receive a cash assistance grant.

64. Limit shown is for counties using the $150 and 50 percent earnings disregard. For counties using the 20 percent and $134 earnings disregard, the income eligibility limit is $860.

65. Limit is based on rules that apply to families subject to the time limit. Income eligibility limits are lower for families exempt from the time limit.

66. There is no income limit in the first month of earnings only when full-time employment is obtained within 30 days from the initial authorization of TANF benefits or 30 days from the start date of Job Readiness/Job Search activities.

67. Limit is based on rules that apply to families subject to the time limit. Income eligibility limits are lower for families exempt from the time limit.

68. Families with earnings up to the amount shown are eligible for some W-2 services; however, unlike in all other states, these families in unsubsidized employment do not receive cash assistance.

69. Half of the AFDC caseload in July 1996 was subject to an earnings disregard policy that disregarded $120 and 1/6 of the remainder, resulting in an income limit of $740. The other half of the AFDC caseload in July 1996 was subject to the standard AFDC disregard policy, resulting in an income limit of $900 in the 1st month of earnings and $610 in the 13th month of earnings.

70. Number of months indicates that a family may receive a payment up to the maximum benefit for that number of months. For example, in Alaska the maximum diversion assistance payment equals two months of the maximum TANF payment.

71. A vendor payment is a restricted payment made directly to a third party for a specific purpose, e.g., payment of rent.

72. If a family applies for benefits within three months of receiving a payment, the payment will be counted as income.

73. The diversion program in Arizona is not yet implemented. Implementation is pending resolution of issues tied to potential transitional Medicaid eligibility for diversion clients.

74. If a family applies for benefits withing three months, the department shall prorate the diversion payment over three months and subtract it from the TANF assistance payment.

75. Counties have the option of whether or not to implement a diversion assistance program for applicants eligible under TANF. Counties also have the option to operate a separate diversion program for applicants not eligible for cash assistance under TANF.

76. The period of ineligibility may be waived on a case-by-case basis if denial of assistance would endanger the child.

77. If a family applies for assistance within three months of receiving a diversion payment, the amount in excess of what it would have received if it were on TANF assistance must be paid back.

78. A family may be eligible for a diversion payment of up to 12 months if compelling reasons exist.

79. A family may be eligible more than once if a new emergency occurs.

80. Montana has two separate programs that provide diversion assistance payments. Characteristics of these payments, as listed in the table, are the same. Participants receiving payments in one program are not excluded from later receiving payments in the second program.

81. If a family begins receiving TANF assistance within three months, the family will be required to reimburse the state for the diversion payment by having the amount of the payment to be deducted from the first three months of assistance.

82. The diversion program is phasing in, starting with one county in November 1997. It will be effective statewide by August 1998.

83. The period of TANF ineligibility after receiving a diversion payment in Virginia is equal to the equivalent number of days of regular TANF benefits provided as the diversion payment times 4/3, or 1.33. For example, if someone received a diversion payment equivalent to four months of TANF benefits, then the period of ineligibility would equal 120 days times 1.33, or 160 days.

84. If a family begins to receive assistance within 12 months of receiving a diversion payment, the payment will be treated as a loan from the state and recovered by deduction from the recipient's cash grant on a prorated basis.

85. The diversion program in Wisconsin differs from others in that the lump-sum payment is a loan to assist with expenses related to obtaining or maintaining employment and must be repayed to the state. Repayments are exptected within 12 months but may be extended to 24 months.

86. The 30-day waiting period has been modified to a 4-week waiting period.

87. Georgia eliminated the 6-out-of-13-quarters work history rule but still requires at least one parent in a two-parent, nondisabled family to have a recent connection to the workforce, defined as one of the following: (1) currently working an average of at least 20 hours per week, (2) received unemployment compensation in current month or within the past 12 months prior to month of application, (3) working less than 20 hours per week and has earned $500 within the six months prior to application, (4) receiving retirement benefits in the month of application or six months prior, or (5) has received disability benefits based on 100 percent disability in any of the past six months.

88. Missouri: The 100-hour rule, 30-day waiting period, and work history rule are not in effect if both parents are under 21.

89. South Dakota has modified the work history rule such that two-parent families are required to have $1,500 in gross earnings from employment within six months prior to the month of application.

90. Utah's time limit for two-parent, nondisabled families is 7 out of 13 months.

91. The 100-hour rule is not in effect for recipients. It is also not in effect for applicants as part of a one-year statewide pilot.

92. Washington's 30-day waiting period applies only to clients (including voluntary quits) who refuse employment without good cause.

93. The exemption is only for caring for a disabled child.

94. The decision to give an exemption or extend the time limit is at the discretion of the county office.

95. Counties have the option to exempt victims of domestic violence.

96. Child subject to family cap may not be cause for exemption.

97. For long-term recipients with poor job skills and little experience, the time limit is increased to 36 out of 72 months.

98. The age that qualifies a parent for exemption had been two years prior to December 1997. The age for exemption will be lowered to six months in June 1998 and to 12 weeks in December 1998. For a child subject to the family cap, however, the age for exemption has been and will remain 12 weeks.

99. Recipients may also earn one additional month of TANF benefits for every six consecutive months during which they were employed full time; however, an individual may not retain a credit for more than 24 months at any one time.

100. The time limit is individualized based on what is specified in the Family Investment Agreement.

101. The TANF plan states that persons will be subject to the time limit "unless the family is included in the 20 percent caseload exemption allowable under federal law." However, there are no specific exemptions mentioned in state legislation or regulations at this time.

102. This exemption age does not apply to children subject to the family cap. For children subject to the family cap, the exemption age is three months.

103. There is no time limit under state law. The state says that it will not expend TANF funds to provide assistance to a family with an adult who has received TANF for 60 months. In response to questions about the time limit, the state replied that "[TANF] policies are intended to result in self-sufficiency well before the 60-month time limit. If a family does reach the 60-month time limit and is cooperating with agency requirements, we intend to expend state funds thereafter." .

104. Under the Missouri Families Mutual Responsibility Plan, the waiver that is being continued under TANF, the state will deny assistance to an individual who reapplies for benefits after completing a self-sufficiency agreement that the individual entered after July 1997 if he/she received benefits for at least 36 months. The state exempts from this provision persons who become disabled, have received unemployment compensation since completing their self-sufficiency agreement, or are unemployed through no fault of their own.

105. Exemption also applies to families with older children who lack access to child care.

106. Time limit begins when the individual signs a self-sufficiency agreement or after 90 days, whichever is earlier.

107. Families are exempt from time limits if self-sufficiency is not possible due to mental, physical, or emotional conditions of any adult included in the assistance unit.

108. Qualified hardships include being ill or incapacitated, caring for an ill or incapacitated person, caring for a child under age one (12-month lifetime limit for this reason), being 60 or older, and suffering from any condition or circumstance deemed a hardship by the Welfare Division.

109. The extension is up to 12 cumulative months granted in increments that do not exceed 6 months.

110. This exemption does not apply to persons working more than 30 hours per week. Also, the TANF plan states that "single parents with children under six will be phased in [to work requirements and 24-month limit] as child care becomes available." .

111. The state specifies that counties are allowed to exempt up to 20 percent of TANF cases on the grounds that the time limit is a hardship. Counties are left to specify what constitutes a hardship.

112. The state specifies that good cause may include losing or inability to find employment, divorce, domestic violence, or unique personal circumstances.

113. This exemption may be limited to three months in a two-year period, depending upon circumstances.

114. The six-month extension may be extended further with the express permission of the county director.

115. After 18 months of assistance, family must wait at least three months before becoming re-eligible for assistance. At that point, the 18-month limit applies again.

116. The 12-month limit applies to recipients with 18 or more months of recent work experience and a high school diploma, a GED, or a certificate from a postsecondary or vocational school. The 24-month limit applies to recipients with 6 to 17 months of recent work experience or education through the 11th grade but less than a high school degree. The 36-month limit applies to recipients with less than 6 months of recent work experience and education less than the 11th grade. The time limit begins once the recipient is notified of an opening in the JOBS program.

117. Exemptions are granted for six months at a time after the time limit is reached. To receive an exemption due to unique personal circumstances that prevent the recipient from obtaining or maintaining employment for a period beyond the initial six months, the recipient must show that he/she has contacted at least 40 employers in each month during the exemption period.

118. Exemptions are granted for six months at a time after the time limit is reached. To receive an exemption due to high county unemployment for a period beyond the initial six months, the recipient must show that he/she has contacted at least 40 employers in each month during the exemption period.

119. The length of the period of ineligibility following the 24-month time limit depends on the length of receipt of transitional benefits. The recipient is re-eligible for benefits two years after the last month of transitional benefit receipt. If no transitional benefits are received, the period of ineligibility is two years. If transitional benefits are received for the one-year maximum, the period of ineligibility is three years (one year of receiving transitional benefits plus two years).

120. Some types of hardship extensions are renewable for an indefinite period.

121. There are shorter time limits for various components within the W-2 program. The time limit for any given component (Trial Jobs, Community Service Jobs, W-2 Transitions) is 24 months, with some extensions available on a case-by-case basis for W-2 Transitions. Any single subsidized job under Trial Jobs or Community Service Jobs is limited to 6–9 months.

122. Recipients who have received assistance for three or more years as of January 1997 are eligible for only two additional years of assistance.

123. Victims of domestic violence may receive an extension of up to two years.

124. The time limit began 11/95 in eight counties and expanded to the entire state by 7/97.

125. The 24-out-of-60-months benefit reduction time limit began 11/95. The 60-month lifetime limit began 10/96.

126. Implementation of the time limit policy began with a small number of cases. The time limit for all cases in the state began 3/97.

127. The 24-out-of-60-months time limit began 7/96; the 60-month lifetime limit began 1/97.

128. The 24-out-of-60-months (or 36-out-of-72-months) time limit began in just eight counties 2/94. This was expanded to statewide and the 48-month lifetime limit was added 10/96.

129. The 24-month time limit began 2/96. The 60-month lifetime limit began 7/97.

130. The 24-month time limit began 5/95 for nonexempt cases that were determined to be job-ready. Beginning 6/97 the 60-month time limit was added and the 24-month time limit was applied to all nonexempt cases.

131. The time limit was phased in over a six-month period beginning 10/96.

132. The 12-, 24-, or 36-month time limit began 6/96 in one county and expanded to the entire state by 9/97. The 60-month lifetime limit began 11/96.

133. There is no time limit in Vermont.

134. The time limit began in five counties 7/95 and expanded to the entire state by 10/97.

135. The state TANF plan says that the time limit will begin in or after December 1996.

136. There is no time limit under Michigan state law.

137. Parents are exempt while youngest child is under one year old for children conceived while on assistance.

138. Counties have the flexibility to lengthen the exemption age to 12 months or shorten it to 12 weeks. Parents are exempt while the youngest child is under 12 weeks old for all subsequent children.

139. This exemption may be extended for an appropriate period of time if medically necessary for the parent or the child.

140. Counties have the option to determine when recipients should be exempt from work requirements.

141. The exemption does not apply to children subject to the family cap.

142. The use of this exemption by a parent is limited to three months for any one child. Districts can opt to increase the three-month exemption limit for any one child to 12 months.

143. Parents are exempt while youngest child is under 12 weeks old for children subject to the family cap. The exemption listed is effective 12/97. Prior to this exemption (effective 6/97), parents were exempt while the youngest child was under two years old for children not subject to the family cap. Effective 6/98, parents are exempt while the youngest child is under six months old for children not subject to the family cap. Effective 12/98, parents are exempt while the youngest child is under 12 weeks old for children not subject to the family cap.

144. Parents under age 25 who have not completed their high school education are required to comply with activities regardless of the age of the youngest child.

145. The exemption is based on the youngest child at time of initial application, regardless of whether a new child is added to the unit. In cases where the child on whom the exemption is based leaves the assistance unit and there is still a child in the assistance unit under the age of four, the exemption ends when the eldest child remaining in the home reaches the age of four.

146. Parents with children over 6 months but under 18 months of age are exempt from the work requirements, but must participate in welfare-to-work activities. Parents who have received assistance for at least 28 months are exempt while the youngest child is under 6 months old.

147. The child must be a member of the assistance unit to exempt a parent from work requirements.

148. Parents are exempt while the youngest child is under six weeks old for children subject to the family cap.

149. Parents whose youngest child is between two and six may become nonexempt if work activities become available. Parents are exempt while the youngest child is under three months old for children not in the assistance unit.

150. Effective June 30, 1999, the age of the youngest child under which parents will be exempt from work activities will be reduced from one year to three months.

151. For subsequent children, single parents may receive an exemption for a total of six months between the beginning of the last trimester of pregnancy and when the newborn reaches six months of age.

152. The work exemption policy regarding caring for a young child began early in 1996 in eight counties and was phased in statewide by 2/97.

153. The work exemption policy regarding caring for a young child began in 1995 in eight counties and expanded statewide in 1997.

154. Implementation of the work exemption policy regarding caring for a young child began with a small number of cases. The work exemption policy for all cases in the state began 3/97.

155. This work exemption policy regarding caring for a young child began in seven counties in 1993 and later expanded statewide.

156. The work exemption policy regarding caring for a young child began in five counties 7/95 and expanded to the entire state by 10/97.

157. For comparison purposes, the initial sanction refers to the sanction a TANF recipient would receive if the recipient were noncompliant with work requirements for the first time and subsequently complied with work requirements at the earliest possible time.

158. The most severe sanction may go into effect after a subsequent instance of noncompliance or as a result of continual noncompliance after a specified length of time, depending on the state.

159. The length of each sanction, unless otherwise specified, is the number of months stated or until the sanctioned recipient complies with the work requirements, whichever is longer.

160. If the imposition of the sanction would result in the children in the home being removed to foster care, then the sanction for both first and subsequent instances of noncompliance is partial.

161. Counties have the option to set the length of sanction between one and three months for the initial sanction and between three and six months for the most severe sanction. Also, although the state has set the initial sanction as a partial-benefit reduction, it has given counties the option of increasing this to a full-benefit sanction.

162. The length of sanction is one month after compliance.

163. The length of sanction is 12 months or until the end of the 48-month Nebraska time-limit period, whichever is shorter.

164. The length of sanction is one month after compliance.

165. The length of sanction is two weeks after compliance.

166. If recipient works some of the assigned work hours, but fails to work all assigned work hours, the initial sanction is partial. If the recipient fails to work any of the assigned work hours, the initial sanction is full.

167. The work sanction policy began in early 1996 in eight counties and was phased in statewide by 2/97.

168. The work sanction policy began in 1995 in eight counties and expanded statewide in 1997.

169. Implementation of the work sanction policy began with a small number of cases. The work sanction policy for all cases in the state began 3/97.

170. The work sanction policy was phased in in 11 counties during 1996 and is scheduled to be phased in statewide by 1/98.

171. The work sanction policy began in 11/95 in part of the state and expanded statewide by 7/96.

172. The work sanction policy began in five counties 7/95 and expanded to the entire state by 10/97.

173. The partial sanction policy began in two counties 1/95, expanded to most of the state in 3/96, and expanded statewide in 9/97.

174. Federal law allows states to count participation in work preparation and training activities, such as job search, job readiness, and job skill training, as work in calculating the work participation rates. The states listed in this table are those that require nonexempt recipients to engage only in unsubsidized employment, subsidized employment, or unpaid work experience (on-the-job training, community work experience, or community service) for at least 20 hours per week.

175. Number of nonexempt days or months during which benefits can be received without participating in employment or unpaid work experience.

176. The 18-month limit is for applicants who apply on or after 1/1/98. Families receiving assistance before 1/1/98 have a 24-month limit.

177. The 26 weeks of job search activities need not be consecutive.

178. The count of 24 months begins only after the completion of an employment plan by the nonexempt recipient.

179. Amount shown is for nonexempt families.

180. Amount shown is the basic benefit. Counties have the option to provide supplemental cash or noncash assistance in addition to this amount.

181. Amount shown is for families with shelter costs of at least $50. Families with lower shelter expenses receive a lower benefit.

182. Amount includes a $135 shelter payment.

183. Amount shown includes a rent allowance for families with shelter costs. Amount shown is for "nonexempt" families, who are generally subject to the time limits and work requirements. The amount for exempt families is $579.

184. Comparison of benefit levels is difficult because benefits under TANF include food stamps.

185. Amount includes the maximum shelter allowance of $243.

186. Comparison of benefit levels is difficult because benefits under TANF include food stamps.

187. The amount shown is for participation in W-2 Transitions. The amount for participation in a community service job is $673.

188. Families participating in a community service job receive $156 more a month than the 1996 benefit level.

189. Amount shown is for families with shelter expenses.

190. Earnings must be reported in a timely and accurate fashion to qualify for the 100 percent disregard for the first three months.

191. For families not subject to the time limit, the disregard remains $120 and one-third but without time limit.

192. Families that exceed the 24-month time limit and move into the Community Services program have an earnings disregard of $100 instead of the $200 and 25 percent disregard.

193. For families not subject to the time limit, the disregard is $90 and $30 and one-third, with the same phaseout policy as under AFDC.

194. The Wisconsin Works program is structured in such a way that earnings disregards are not used. A family with earnings from an unsubsidized job receives only those earnings plus food stamps and the state and federal earned income tax credit. There is no benefit formula for which an earnings disregard is applied.

195. The earnings disregard policy began in early 1996 in eight counties and was phased in statewide by 2/97.

196. This policy began in 1994 in eight counties but was not made statewide until the start of TANF.

197. Implementation began 7/96. At that time the disregard only applied for 12 months, but under TANF this was increased to 18 months.

198. This earnings disregard policy began in seven counties in 1993 and later expanded statewide.

199. The original earnings disregard change occurred prior to 8/96 under waivers when a disregard of 20 percent was used. This was increased to 26 percent after 8/96.

200. The earnings disregard policy began in five counties 7/95 and expanded to the entire state by 10/97.

201. A similar disregard policy was used prior to 8/96 under waivers in just seven counties. The disregard policy was modified and made statewide under TANF.

202. Connecticut increases the benefit by $50 for each additional child born while on assistance. This is approximately half the increase in benefits normally given for an additional child.

203. Florida increases the benefit by 50 percent of the normal increase for the first additional child and provides no further increases in benefits for additional children thereafter.

204. For all families, the maximum benefit is $276 regardless of family size, creating an implicit family cap. For families with earnings, benefits may vary by family size up to the maximum benefit.

205. The increase in cash benefit is given to a third party, such as a community group or church, on behalf of the additional child.

206. Families with a child subject to the family cap and in compliance with the Personal Responsibility plan who leave assistance for at least 90 days may receive assistance without the child subject to the family cap if the family has a subsequent welfare spell.

207. Implementation started in five counties and expanded statewide within one year.

208. Delaware's family cap was implemented statewide in 10/95 but was applied to only a small portion of the caseload. By 3/97, the provision was applied to the full caseload. Delaware plans to remove its exemption from the family cap for first-time minor parents under its TANF plan.

209. Georgia's family cap, as implemented in 1/94, allowed a 24-month grace period after initial receipt of assistance within which a family could have an additional child and not be subject to the family cap. Under its TANF plan, this grace period is being reduced to 10 months, the grace period length adopted by most other states.

210. Idaho implemented a partial flat benefit program under TANF that resulted in an implicit family cap. A family with no earnings receives fixed benefits and thus has an implicit family cap. For families with earnings, benefits are differentiated by family size and the implicit family cap is removed.

211. Illinois's family cap was implemented in 12/95 for recipients and 2/96 for applicants.

212. Tennessee's family cap was phased in over a six-month period beginning in 9/96.

213. Wisconsin has changed its family cap from being explicit to implicit. Under its TANF plan, Wisconsin provides a flat benefit structure, which essentially acts as a family cap.

214. The child support pass-through may continue past June 30, 1998, based on legislative approval.

215. The child support pass-through is only in effect until December 31, 1997.

216. Legislation passed in the fall of 1997 by the Pennsylvania state legislature required the Department of Public Welfare to change the method of calculating the child support pass-through. However, Pennsylvania is currently under court order to continue the $50 child support pass-through according to pre-welfare reform regulations until the resolution of pending litigation.

217. The child support pass-through is continued at $50 for those receiving TANF assistance prior to July 1, 1997.

218. The child support pass-through is continued for recipients in a small control group. For recipients in the statewide demonstration, the entire grant is passed through, deducting any amount in excess of $50 from the cash assistance benefit.

219. The child support pass-through is replaced by an additional cash benefit, which is equal to the amount of child support collected for the family, not to exceed $50.

220. Wisconsin Works recipients receive the entire child support payment, all of which is disregarded for benefit computation but not for eligibility determination. A control group receives up to $50 or the state share of the child support payment, whichever is greater, to be disregarded for cash assistance benefit computation but not for eligibility determination.

221. For more information on the Child Assistance Program, see The New York State Child Assistance Program: Five-Year Impacts, Costs, and Benefits, William Hamilton et al., Abt Associates, Inc., October 1996.

222. Rules shown are those that apply to families subject to the time limit.

223. Delaware uses the term "payment standard" in state regulations differently from how it is used in this table. Delaware uses the term to mean a benefit cap, that is, the maximum benefit that will be paid to a family. In this table and in most states, the payment standard refers to the amount from which net income is subtracted in order to calculate the benefit amount, while Delaware uses the need standard to refer to this amount. For Delaware's entry in this table, references to the payment standard are equivalent to the need standard.

224. Families whose net income is above the payment standard but less than the federal poverty level do not receive a cash assistance grant. However, such families are still treated as TANF recipients and are eligible for TANF-related services.

225. This income eligibility test does not apply to families receiving the six-month 100 percent earnings disregard.

226. This income eligibility test does not apply to families receiving the 100 percent earnings disregard available for the first three months of earnings.

227. For the initial two months of eligibility, gross income must also be less than 106 percent of the need standard.

228. If the imposition of the sanction would result in the children in the home being removed to foster care, then the sanction for both first and subsequent instances of noncompliance is a 25 percent reduction of benefit.

229. If a parent or caretaker has been subject to a sanction for over three months, the county must issue vouchers or vendor payments for at least rent and utilities, until the parent is no longer sanctioned.

230. For each sanction, counties have the option to determine the length of time for which the benefit reduction will be applied, within the range specified. Also, although the state has set the first and second sanctions at 25 percent and 50 percent benefit reduction, it has given counties the option of increasing this to a full-benefit sanction.

231. If a recipient ends a sanction by complying with work requirements and subsequently fails to comply within six months of the end of the most recent sanction, the sanction applied begins at the next highest level from the most recent sanction. If a recipient ends a sanction by complying with work requirements and subsequently fails to comply six months or more after the most recent sanction, the initial sanction is applied. The payment period is equivalent to half a month.

232. Also during the first 24 months of assistance: If an employed individual voluntarily, without good cause, reduces his or her earnings by not working an average of at least 20 hours per week, the cash grant is reduced by the dollar value of the income that would have been earned if the recipient had fulfilled the requirement. The reduction continues until the requirement is met.

233. For two-parent "unemployed parent" families, the first set of sanctions apply for the first 15 months of assistance and the second set of sanctions apply after the first 15 months of assistance. For both single-parent and two-parent families, the removal of the adult from benefit continues to apply after 30 or 15 months, respectively, under some circumstances.


APPENDIX

Table A.1 Detailed Income Eligibility Rules for TANF Recipients


State Income Eligibility Rules for Recipients in Order to Receive a Cash Payment

Alabama Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Alaska Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Arizona Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Arkansas Net income must be $223 or less.

California Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Colorado Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Connecticut(222) Gross earnings must be less than the federal poverty level.
Unearned income must be less than the need standard and the payment standard.

Delaware Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.(223)

District of Columbia Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Florida Gross income must be less than 130 percent of the federal poverty level.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Georgia Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Hawaii Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the 1993 federal poverty level.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Idaho Net income must be less than 33 percent of the 1997 federal poverty level.

Illinois Gross income must be less than the federal poverty level.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Indiana Net income must be less than the federal poverty level.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.(224)

Iowa Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Kansas Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Kentucky Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Louisiana Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Maine Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Maryland Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Massachusetts Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Michigan Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Minnesota Net income must be less than the payment standard (called the transitional standard).

Mississippi Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.(225)
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Missouri Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Montana Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Nebraska Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Nevada Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.(226)
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

New Hampshire Net income must be less than the payment standard.

New Jersey Net income must be less than the maximum benefit ($424 for a family of three).

New Mexico Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

New York Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
(For families receiving a shelter allowance, gross income must be less than the 1996 federak poverty level.)
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

North Carolina Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

North Dakota Net income must be less than the payment standard.(227)

Ohio Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Oklahoma Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Oregon Gross income must be less than the countable income limit ($616 for a family of three).
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Pennsylvania Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Rhode Island Net income must be less than the payment standard.

South Carolina Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

South Dakota Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Tennessee Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Texas Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Utah Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Vermont Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Virginia(222) Earnings must be less than the federal poverty level.

Washington Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

West Virginia Gross income must be less than 185 percent of the need standard.
Net income must be less than the payment standard.

Wisconsin Gross income must be less than 115 percent of the federal poverty level.

Wyoming Net income must be less than the payment standard.


Source: Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.

Table A.2 Detailed Sanction Rules for Noncompliance with Work Requirements


State Sanctions Resulting from Failure to Comply with Work Requirements without Good Cause: (length of each sanction is the number of months stated or until compliance, whichever is longer)

Alabama First 3 months of noncompliance (consecutive or not): 25 percent reduction in benefit.

Noncompliance in excess of 3 months (consecutive or not), first instance: termination of benefit for 1 month.

Noncompliance in excess of 3 months (consecutive or not), subsequent instances: termination of benefit for 6 months.


Alaska First instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 1 month.

Second instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 6 months.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 12 months.


Arizona First month of noncompliance: 25 percent reduction in benefit for 1 month.

Second month of noncompliance: 50 percent reduction in benefit for 1 month.

Subsequent months of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 1 month.


Arkansas First instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit.

Second instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 3 months.(228)


California First instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit.

Second instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 3 months.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 6 months.(229)


Colorado First instance of noncompliance: 25 percent reduction in benefit for 1–3 months.

Continued noncompliance after 1–3 months or second instance of noncompliance: 50 percent reduction in benefit for 1–3 months.

Continued noncompliance after another 1–3 months or subsequent instances of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 3–6 months.(230)


Connecticut First instance of noncompliance: 20 percent reduction in benefit for 3 months.

Continued noncompliance after 3 months or second instance of noncompliance: 35 percent reduction in benefit for 6 months.

Continued noncompliance after another 6 months or subsequent instances of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 3 months.


Delaware First instance of noncompliance: one-third reduction in benefit.

Continued noncompliance after 2 months or second instance of noncompliance: two-thirds reduction in benefit.

Continued noncompliance after another 2 months or subsequent instances of noncompliance: termination of benefit, for life.


District of Columbia First instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit.

Second instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 3 months.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 6 months.


Florida First instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit.

Second instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit and termination of Food Stamps benefit until 30 days of compliance (benefits for children under 12 may continue through protective payee).

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: termination of benefit and termination of Food Stamps benefit for 3 months (benefits for children under 12 may continue through protective payee).


Georgia First instance of noncompliance: 25 percent reduction in benefit for 1 month.

Continued noncompliance after 3 months or second instance of noncompliance within 24 months: termination of benefit for life.


Hawaii First instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit.

Second instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 3 months.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 6 months.


Idaho First instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 1 month.

Second instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 3 months.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: termination of benefit for life.


Illinois First instance of noncompliance: 50 percent reduction in benefit. If noncompliance continues for 3 months, termination of benefit.

Second instance of noncompliance: 50 percent reduction in benefit for 3 months. If noncompliance continues for 3 months, termination of benefit.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 3 months.


Indiana First instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 2 months.

Second instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 12 months.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 36 months.


Iowa First instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 3 months followed by termination of benefit for 6 months.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 6 months.


Kansas First instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 2 months.


Kentucky Noncompliance due to failure to attend assessment: termination of benefit.

Noncompliance due to failure to meet required work activity: removal of adult from benefit.


Louisiana First instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 3 months. If noncompliance continues after 3 months, termination of benefit.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: termination of benefit.


Maine First instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit.

Second instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 3 months.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 6 months.


Maryland First instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit.

Second instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit until 10 days of compliance.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: termination of benefit until 30 days of compliance.


Massachusetts First instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit.

Continued noncompliance after 1 month or subsequent instances of noncompliance: termination of benefit.


Michigan Instance of noncompliance during first 2 months of assistance: termination of benefit.

First instance of noncompliance after first 2 months of assistance: 25 percent reduction in benefit, including food stamps, for 1 month.

Continued noncompliance after 4 months: termination of benefit, including food stamps, for 1 month.


Minnesota First instance of noncompliance: 10 percent reduction in benefit for 1 month.

Continued noncompliance after 1 month or subsequent instances of noncompliance: payment of rent as vendor payments, with cash remainder paid to the family for six months. For the second month of the sanction or until compliance, whichever is longer, the cash remainder will be reduced by an amount equal to 30 percent of the standard benefit paid to family.


Mississippi First instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 2 months.

Second instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 6 months.

Third instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 12 months.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: termination of benefit for life.


Missouri First instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit.

Second instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 3 months.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 6 months.


Montana First instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 1 month.

Second instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 3 months.

Third instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 6 months.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 12 months.


Nebraska First instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 1 month.

Second instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 3 months.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 12 months or until end of 48 month time-limit period, whichever is shorter.


Nevada First instance of noncompliance:

First-level sanction for noncompliance: one-third or pro rata reduction of benefit, whichever is greater, for 1 month; if noncompliance continues for second month, two-thirds or pro rata reduction of benefit, whichever is greater, for 1 month; if noncompliance continues for third month: 100 percent reduction of benefit for 3 months.

Next instance of noncompliance: If previous sanction ended with compliance in the first or second month, then return to first-level sanction. If not, then next instance of noncompliance results in second-level sanction.

Second-level sanction for noncompliance: one-third or pro rata reduction of benefit, whichever is greater, for 1 month; if noncompliance continues for second month, two-thirds or pro rata reduction of benefit, whichever is greater, for 1 month; if noncompliance continues for third month, 100 percent reduction of benefit for 6 months.

Next and subsequent instances of noncompliance: If previous sanction ended with compliance in the first or second month, then return to second-level sanction. If not, then next instance of noncompliance results in third-level sanction.

Third-level sanction for noncompliance: One half or pro rata reduction of benefit, whichever is greater, for 1 month; if noncompliance continues for second month, termination of benefit for life.


New Hampshire First instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 1 payment period.

Continued noncompliance after 3 months: removal of adult from benefit and one-third reduction of remainder for 1 payment period.

Continued noncompliance after another 3 months: removal of adult from benefit and two-thirds reduction of remainder for 1 payment period.(231)


New Jersey First instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for one month. After 3 months of noncompliance, the case is closed.

Second instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for two months. If continued noncompliance after first month, termination of benefit for second month. If continued noncompliance after second month, case is closed.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 3 months. After 3 months of noncompliance, case is closed.


New Mexico First instance of noncompliance: 33 percent reduction in benefit.

Continued noncompliance after 3 months or second instance of noncompliance: 66 percent reduction in benefit.

Continued noncompliance after another 3 months or subsequent instances of noncompliance: case is closed.


New York First instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit.

Second instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 3 months.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 6 months.


North Carolina First instance of noncompliance: $50 reduction in benefits for 3 months.

Second instance of noncompliance: $75 reduction in benefits for 3 months.

Third instance of noncompliance: $75 reduction in benefits for 6 months.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: $75 reduction in benefits for 12 months.


North Dakota First instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 1 month. Case is closed after 6 months of continued noncompliance.

Second instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 2 months. Case is closed after 4 months continued noncompliance.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 3 months. Case is closed after 4 months of continued noncompliance.


Ohio First instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 1 month.

Second instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 3 months.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 6 months.


Oklahoma Each instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit

Oregon First instance of noncompliance: $50 reduction in benefit.

Continued noncompliance after 2 months or second instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit.

Continued noncompliance after 4 months or subsequent instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit.


Pennsylvania During first 24 months of assistance:(232)

First instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 30 days.

Second instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 60 days.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit permanently.

After first 24 months of assistance:

First instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 30 days.

Second instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 60 days.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: termination of benefit permanently.


Rhode Island During first 24 months of assistance:

Each instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit.

After first 24 months of assistance:

First instance of noncompliance: 110 percent of adult's portion of benefit.

Continued noncompliance after 6 months or second instance of noncompliance: 120 percent of adult's portion of benefit.

Continued noncompliance after another 6 months or third instance of noncompliance: 130 percent of adult's portion of benefit.

Continued noncompliance after another 6 months or fourth instance of noncompliance: 140 percent of adult's portion of benefit.

Continued noncompliance after another 6 months or subsequent instances of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit and payment made to third party for children's use.


South Carolina Each instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit until 30 days after compliance.

South Dakota First instance of noncompliance: 50 percent reduction in benefit for one month.

Continued noncompliance after 1 month or subsequent instances of noncompliance: termination of benefit for one month.


Tennessee First instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 3 months.


Texas First instance of noncompliance: $78 reduction of benefit (if one parent fails to comply), $125 reduction of benefit (if both parents fail to comply) for 1 month.

Second instance of noncompliance: $78 reduction of benefit (if one parent fails to comply), $125 reduction of benefit (if both parents fail to comply) for 3 months.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: $78 reduction of benefit (if one parent fails to comply), $125 reduction of benefit (if both parents fail to comply) for 6 months.


Utah First month of noncompliance: Removal of adult from benefit (fixed at $100).

Continued noncompliance after 2 months: case closure.


Vermont(233) During first 30 months of assistance:

First instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit.

Second instance of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 3 months.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit for 6 months.

After first 30 months of assistance:

First instance of noncompliance: housing, fuel, utilities, and food costs paid through vendor process with balance of benefit paid to recipient. Adult required to attend three meetings per month with caseworker.

Noncompliance with monthly reporting requirement: termination of benefits.


Virginia First instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 1 month.

Second instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 3 months.

Subsequent instances of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 6 months.


Washington First month of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit until two weeks after compliance.

Second month of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit and grant paid to a protective payee until two weeks after compliance.

Third and subsequent months of noncompliance: removal of adult from benefit or 40 percent reduction of benefit, whichever is greater, and grant paid to a protective payee until two weeks after compliance.


West Virginia First instance of noncompliance: one-third reduction of benefit for 3 months.

Continued noncompliance after 3 months or second instance of noncompliance: two-thirds reduction of benefit for 3 months.

Continued noncompliance after another 3 months or subsequent instances of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 6 months.


Wisconsin Failure to complete assigned work hours: reduction of benefit by $5.15 per hour.

Failure to participate in an employment position activity: termination of benefit.

Failure to participate three times in any W-2 employment position activity: ineligibility for participation in that employment component for life.


Wyoming Each instance of noncompliance: termination of benefit for 1 month.

Source: Urban Institute summary of state TANF decisions as of October 1997.



About the Authors

L. Jerome Gallagher is a research associate with the Urban Institute's Income and Benefits Policy Center. His research interests include welfare reform, general assistance, and poverty. For the Assessing the New Federalism project, he has conducted case studies on income support and social services in Mississippi and Texas. He is also the co-author of a survey of state general assistance programs.

Megan Gallagher is a research assistant at the Urban Institute's Income and Benefits Policy Center. Her research interests include income, employment, and welfare reform. For the Assessing the New Federalism project, she conducted a case study on social services in Washington. She is currently working with the project's National Survey of America's Families.

Kevin Perese is a research assistant at the Urban Institute's Income and Benefits Policy Center. His research interests include poverty, retirement decisions, health insurance coverage, and welfare caseload trends. He has collected data on state welfare waiver policies and implementation and has analyzed caseload trends surrounding welfare reform.

Susan Schreiber is a research assistant at the Urban Institute's Income and Benefits Policy Center. Her interests include welfare reform, employment, and community building. Currently, she is involved in research and program evaluation related to paternal involvement and child support and their effects on child outcomes.

Keith Watson was a research associate in the Urban Institute's Income and Benefits Policy Center. For the Assessing the New Federalism project, he analyzed state-to-local devolution and work incentives for welfare recipients. He is currently a budget analyst at the District of Columbia Office of Budget and Planning.



Topics/Tags: | Poverty, Assets and Safety Net


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