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Welfare-to-work participation up, TA caseload down

MAYVILLE — Welfare-to-work participation is up according to the latest report by the county Health and Human Services’ Temporary Assistance Division.

Data shows the participation rate among beneficiaries went from 17.6 percent in June to 20.1 percent in October. The county’s rate is 2.1 percent below the state average, 22.2 percent, and ranks 43 out of 57 counties for the highest participation rate in New York.

The participation rate is up from 2012 when 10 percent of beneficiaries were involved in work-related activities. The figure has stayed consistent for quite some time. Diane Anderson, certification director for temporary assistance, said the number of people who receive benefits and are exempt from work-related activities is a contributing factor.

“A lot of it has to do with the exempt population growing and the amount of people that we have left that we can even require to do work activities,” Anderson said. “Those exempt people, many of them still count in our participation rate.”

As of November, 958 people were exempt from work-related activities while 743 were required to work. Recipients who are exempt from participating in work include those over the age of 60, need a permanent caretaker, or physically can’t perform work-related activities.

The number of people required to work went from 840 in June to 743 in November. Katie Geise, executive director for Chautauqua Works, said it shows people who are receiving temporary assistance are the ones who should be getting it.

“If this nonexempt (number) keeps going down and down, that means we’re all working toward getting people off assistance who can work,” she said.

The report shows a  temporary assistance caseload of around 2,000 in December. Everyone who receives temporary assistance automatically qualifies for Medicaid. Most people also qualify for SNAP benefits.

Approximately 39 percent of applications taken are denied for failure to comply with program requirements during the eligibility determination time frame.

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program saw 977 cases in December, which is down from 1,047 in January 2016. The program provides cash assistance to needy families that include a minor child living with a parent, including families where both parents are in the household, or a caretaker relative. Eligible adults are limited to receiving benefits for a total of 60 months during their lifetime.

The federally funded SNAP caseload increased from 11,037 in October to 11,801 in November. During the summer months, SNAP caseloads were just above 11,000.

The SNAP program saw two key changes last year with one requiring able-bodied adults without dependents to participate and show 80 hours of employment per month. Those who don’t meet the requirement lose eligibility. Another regulation took effect in July, which changed the eligible poverty level for households with earned income from 130 percent to 150 percent.

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