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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: June 3, 2014 03:36 PM
From: Senator Judith L. Schwank
To: All Senate members
Subject: TANF Earned-Income Disregard
I will soon introduce legislation raising the earned-income disregard for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits to 75 percent of earned income, from 50 percent. It will apply to both TANF applicants and recipients, to help more low-wage workers to get on the path to financial self-sustainability.

TANF is a federally funded, state-administered program for food, shelter, utility, and non-medical expenses. States have wide discretion in determining and awarding benefits, but recipients generally cannot receive TANF for more than five years during a lifetime. Nationally, about 85 percent of TANF households are headed by women, who account for about two-thirds of minimum-wage workers. The current top award in Pennsylvania has seen its value cut in half since it was set in 1990, and is less than a third of the federal poverty limit.

The earned-income disregard is the share of a worker's employment income that is excluded from benefit eligibility calculations in order to reduce disincentives to workforce participation. The present 50-percent disregard is a disincentive because recipients' earnings at this level are often eaten up by the new costs needed to hold a job, including taxes, transportation, clothing, and child care, and by the resulting reduction in TANF and SNAP (food stamp) benefits.

This proposal is part of the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health, a comprehensive proposal by the Women's Health Caucus to address real health issues affecting Pennsylvania women and their families. I hope you will join in co-sponsoring this small step forward to independence for struggling Pennsylvania families.

Introduced as SB1447