Strengthening Missouri Families Act
State Representative Warren Love wrote about SB 24 in his May 7, 2015 letter to constituents published May 14 in the Enterprise (p. 3B). He described the law, passed by override of the Governor’s veto, as “legislation meant to reform Missouri’s system of welfare so that it does a better job of moving folks out of poverty and toward self-sufficiency.”
SB 24 – Modifications to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Changes to TANF:
- Department of Social Services investigates to determine if person is fulfilling work activity required under TANF
- If not, Department representative holds face-to-face meeting with person to explain possible reduction of benefits
- TANF recipient has six weeks to comply with work requirement
- If no compliance, benefits reduced by 50% for maximum ten weeks (sanction)
- If sanction, Department representative meets face-to-face with person about sanction and how to restore benefits
- Person must work for average of 30 hours per week for one month to restore full benefits
- If work requirement not met, benefits end and case closed.
Effective January 1, 2016 – Sections 208.026 and 208.040
- Lifetime limit for TANF benefits is 45 months (3 years, 9 months), EXCEPT does not apply to minors and families with hardship exemption
- With good cause*, instead of long-term, monthly cash assistance eligible persons can receive:
- Lump sum cash grants for short term needs and
- Job referrals or referrals to career centers
- Lump sum does not count towards lifetime limit.
- Maximum amount set at three times family size allowance
- Authorized one time in a 12-month period for no more than five times in a lifetime.
- Department of Social Services will conduct orientation for new TANF applicants explaining program rules, work requirements and consequences if work requirements are not met. Applicants must sign a participation agreement before case will be opened.
- Income of new spouses of TANF recipients will not be counted for six consecutive months, but only once in a recipient’s lifetime.
- New applicants must engage in work activities to be eligible for TANF benefits.
*Good cause includes: loss of employment (but not if quit job voluntarily or if fired for cause); catastrophic illness; domestic violence or other emergency that results in family member being unable to meet family’s basic needs.
Changes to SNAP:
Effective January 1, 2016 – Section 208.244.1
- Reinstates work requirements for persons to be eligible for benefits under SNAP
- Waiver of the work requirement is removed.