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HHS Restores Work Requirement For Welfare Financial Assistance

The Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday the restoration of work participation requirements under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

The requirements were done away with in 2012 by the Obama administration. HHS now urges states to submit an application for exemptions  from the established work participation criteria for welfare financial aid.

“Reemphasizing the work requirements in the welfare program means once again promoting gainful employment and economic independence as goals for every family,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families Steven Wagner in a statement. “The waiver option offered by the Obama administration is being replaced today by an expectation that work should always be encouraged as a condition for receiving welfare.”

HHS issued an information memorandum to state and territorial agencies that rolled back the Obama era agency information memorandum from July 12, 2012. The new guidelines call upon states to pursue waivers from the mandate for a state to ensure “parents and caretakers receiving assistance under the program engage in work activities.”

According to HHS, only Ohio applied for waiver in October 2015 and again in May 2017. The Buckeye State was told Wednesday that its application from 2015, which according to HHS officials sat “inexplicably idle” under the previous administration, has been rejected.

“Our agency is committed to helping low-income families transition from welfare to work,” said Office of Family Assistance Director Clarence Carter. “We cannot achieve the goal of self-sufficiency if meaningful work participation is divorced from welfare cash assistance.”

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