Welfare Cash Time Limits

The ProJo reports:

Thousands of poor Rhode Islanders have received cash welfare benefits for longer than five years, the time limit adopted by state leaders during the sweeping welfare changes of a decade ago intended to push poor families into the work force.
Nearly half of the state’s 10,755 families receiving cash assistance last year had been on welfare rolls for more than five years, according to data provided by the Department of Human Services. And nearly one quarter of the families had been on cash assistance for more than 10 years.

The story seems skeptical that much savings can be generated by enforcing time limits because many of those on the rolls are exempt for various reasons. Further, according to the ProJo, these exemptions partially explain how “the state had the third-highest number of recipients on welfare as a percentage of population in the nation last year.” Part of that is because around 40% of all cases in Rhode Island are “child only”, whereby a child is provided cash instance even if the parent no longer qualifies.
And tucked in the story is this bit of data:

Rhode Island is not unusual in its decision to cap welfare benefits at 60 months over a person’s lifetime. Thirty-seven states have a 60-month limit and five states and the District of Columbia have no limit, according to an analysis provided by the Poverty Institute at Rhode Island College.

Apparently, we’re not that far from the norm after all. Really?
I wasn’t sure where the Poverty Institute got it’s information. The only reference I could find was in a press release from them, “FIP Facts.” Item 10 states, “Rhode Island’s Time Limits are Consistent with the Majority of States. Rhode Island has a 60 month time limit for adults on FIP. Thirty-seven (37) other states have a 60 month time limit and 5 have no time limit.” This didn’t sound right to me, so I went to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services web site and dug around. The below table seems to dispute what the RIPI states:


There are also many more supporting tables located here. So how did the Poverty Institute determine that 37 states have a 60 month time limit? They are using the lifetime limits states have implemented, which are often different than consecutive month time limits (these are the “Shorter Termination Time Limit” states in the above table). For instance, in Connecticut you can only receive assistance for 21 consecutive months and are capped at 60 months over your lifetime. In Massachusetts, you can receive assistance for 24 out of 60 months, but there is no lifetime cap.
Additionally, Rhode Island is one of 7 states classified in the above table as “60-month reduction or replacement time limit” which are states that have a 60-month time limit but continue to provide some level of support even after the limit has been reached.
In short, the Poverty Institute didn’t tell the whole story. Their numbers imply that Rhode Island is just like the vast majority of states, which have a 60 consecutive month time limit. The truth is that Rhode Island is really only 1 of 7 states that offer 5 consecutive years of regular cash assistance but will continue to pay more for longer if deemed necessary.

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16 years ago

All the figures and charts can be played with.
The bottom line is a kleptocracy of welfare leeches and public employees has driven the state broke.
The governor cannot remain without blame. Why didn’t he lay off a single Spanish interpreter? Why does his DHS grant discretionary waivers to welfareites? Why don’t we see a budget slashing staff, payroll and benefits-including the Judiciary, JCLS, etc.? Why don’t we see a concrete proposal for 401k’s for all state workers and teachers (police and judges too)?

16 years ago

That was some great research! It’s scary that politicians and members of the media accept the numbers given by the Poverty Institute without second-guessing them and base policy on those same numbers.

Tom W
Tom W
16 years ago

–In short, the Poverty Institute didn’t tell the whole story.
They’ve been doing that for years. It’s been very frustrating watching them cherry-pick data and/or take it out of context, and witness duly parroted back by the ProJo without question (though not surprising, as the tone of most of its welfare articles are blatantly slanted toward the Poverty Institute’s agenda of portraying welfare queens as sympathetic figures, if not innocent victims).
The Poverty Institute has all the credibility of good ‘ole “Bagdhad Bob” – maybe we should start referring to Kate Brewster as “Baghdad Kate!”

Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
16 years ago

Did you expect the truth.
As further evidence that the truth about the programs will NEVER be gotten from the bureaucrats that run them, did you have a chance to read the front page article in the Sunday ProJO?
Scott McKay chonicles, rather poorly, the new Commonwealth Care program in Massachusetts. Particularly annoying, was McKay’s neglect to cite the cost to the individual for this new health care plan.
However, the most laughable part, that obviously went right over McKay’s head, was the fact that officials in Massachusetts were “surprised” that the program was already costing more than $157 MILLION MORE than they thought – and the program has not even become mandatory just yet.
It left me with many questions that the writer was either oblivious to, or too lazy to explore.
1) It is a mandatory program, so what did they think it was going to cost? In any business there would be a pro forma done on a number of scenarios. Obviously, the worst case scenario is everybody joins, not that unlikely since the program is mandatory.
2) Who presented these faulty numbers to the legislature, which passed this into law?
3) What are the thoughts of the legislators, now that they have obviously been hoodwinked?
In my mind, this, like the Poverty Institute tactics, is an obvious pattern of fraud by those whose livlihood depends on these programs becoming big costly bureaucracies which milk the taxpayers and DO NOT serve the purpose they proclaim.

16 years ago

“–In short, the Poverty Institute didn’t tell the whole story.”
Why not say what really happens. THEY LIED! There is no incomplete story when you intentionally give incorrect information to support your position. THEY LIED and will continue to lie in order to make Rhode Island the first truly socialist state in the nation.
Finally, how do we get a count of the number of people there are that consider their welfare check a “paycheck” and feel as though dependency is a career choice.

16 years ago

Great post, Marc. It’s real important that we deal in facts.

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