The New TANF Requirements and Individuals With Disabilities: State Comments to the TANF Regulations Illustrate Problems Posed By Inflexible Federal Requirements
Publication Date: March 2007
Author(s): Sharon Parrott
Special Collection: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Keywords: Economic inequality; Income diversity; Disabilities; Unemployment rate
The TANF provisions of the Deficit Reduction Act increase the effective TANF work participation rate — a measure of the proportion of TANF recipients engaged in federally countable work activities for a prescribed number of hours each week — states will be required to meet. States failing to meet these new standards are subject to fiscal penalties. At the same time, the DRA does not address long-standing concerns among states and others that the TANF work participation rate structure (both the allowable work activities and the hours of required participation) is too inflexible for many recipients with physical and mental disabilities. In short, the DRA “raises the bar” on states — requiring them to engage more recipients in welfare-to-work activities — but does not provide them with the flexibility they need to tailor those activities to the circumstances of some TANF recipients with disabilities.