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Public Benefits

The Trump Administration’s Next Attack on Immigrant Families

and How You Can Fight It

By Gavin Kearney, Madison Hardee, Gabrielle Lessard, & Sonya Schwartz

The Trump administration is expected to issue draft regulations expanding the “public-charge” immigration doctrine. A leaked version of the regulations would broaden what being a “public charge” means and would expand the public benefits considered in making a public-charge determination. The leaked regulations would extend the public-charge inquiry to include dependents of the immigrant. The Protecting Immigrant Families, Advancing Our Future Campaign is working to mobilize opposition to the changes.

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SNAP’s Time Limit

Emerging Issues in Litigation and Implementation

By Andrew Hammond & MacKenzie Speer Implementing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) time limit for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) is one of the most pressing issues that public benefits agencies and civil legal aid lawyers are facing. When states implement the time limit, SNAP caseloads often drop precipitously because the recipients affected face significant barriers to work and therefore cannot maintain SNAP eligibility. However, lawyers can enforce state compliance with federal law through litigation and offer innovative policy recommendations through administrative advocacy. Download this article   |   Read more ➢

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income 101

By Kate Lang

Social security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are essential components of the economic security of virtually all Americans. Social security is an insurance program in which benefits are based on an individual’s work history, whereas SSI is a means-tested program, providing benefits to people who are at least age 65, blind, or disabled and who have limited income and assets. The social security and SSI programs have complex, and different, rules.

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Alchemizing Volume

By Jason Auer, Kevin De Liban & Lee Richardson

Legal services organizations continually strive for impact while being weighed down by the pressures of volume. Five years after implementing a strategic planning process to achieve impact, Legal Aid of Arkansas had a breakthrough year with high-level Medicaid and housing advocacy that significantly advanced the interests of its clients. Legal Aid of Arkansas had to make organizational changes to achieve impact and overcame challenges to maintain a focus on impact amid the vestigial pressures of volume.

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Demanding Ascertainable Standards

Medicaid as a Case Study

By Jane Perkins

Public benefits programs increasingly use preset guidelines and assessment tools to make coverage decisions. In some instances, agencies withhold these standards from program applicants and beneficiaries. The lack of ascertainable standards is inconsistent with the transparent use of public funds and creates serious due process problems. Legal protections can prevent the application of secret standards in the Medicaid context; such protections can be used in other public benefits programs, too.

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What Does Due Process Mean for State Notices on Receiving Public Benefits?

By Sovereign Hager & Ty Jones

State agencies notify recipients of public benefits when those benefits are denied, terminated, or reduced. Such notification must be constitutionally adequate to satisfy the due process protections of the Fourteenth Amendment. The three main public-benefits programs—the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families—have specific notice rules. Advocates should make sure their state’s notices comply with the law and are clear and understandable. Advocates in New Mexico succeeded in improving their state’s notices.

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How to Protect Clients Receiving Public Benefits When Modernized Systems Fail

Apply Traditional Due Process in New Contexts

By Amy Hirsch, Gina Mannix, Greg Bass, Kristen Dama & Marc Cohan

States have transformed their administration of public benefits by incorporating sophisticated technology to submit applications, receive inquiries, update case files, or terminate cases. But sometimes those systems fail and result in chaos and arbitrary exclusions. Fundamental procedural due process protections can remedy many of the failures that result from public benefits modernization. By using the due process hook, Community Legal Services in Philadelphia secured improvements in Pennsylvania’s modernized public benefits system.

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“Transitional Due Process”

Still a Viable Theory for Challenging the Implementation of Tightened Public Benefit Program Rules

By John Bouman & Lauren P. Schroeder

“Transitional due process” refers to the procedural rights that public benefits recipients have when a public benefits program changes its rules to reduce benefits or tighten eligibility. The Seventh Circuit set out rules for these transitional due process claims in its 1995 decision in Youakim v. McDonald. Since then, courts have refined the analysis, but the basic requirements for a successful transitional due process claim have remained the same.

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The Fight for Medicaid Coverage of Evidence-Based Behavioral Treatments for Autism

By Miriam Harmatz, Betsy Havens & Monica Vigues-Pitan

Advocates in Florida achieved in federal court a victory that required the state’s Medicaid agency to cover a particular therapy for children with autism. The therapy, applied behavior analysis, was found not to be experimental even though it had not met the “gold standard” of medical tests—large-scale randomized, double-blinded, controlled trials. The injunction requiring Florida’s Medicaid agency to cover the therapy applied statewide even though the plaintiffs were not part of a class action.

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Zebley Counsel Look Back 25 Years and Forward to More Impact Advocacy

By Jonathan M. Stein & Richard P. Weishaupt

The 1990 U.S. Supreme Court case of Sullivan v. Zebley changed the Supplemental Security Income program for children and awarded class relief for about a half-million children who had been illegally denied benefits. The implementation of the victory took more effort than the litigation itself. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Zebley, attorneys involved with the case share their remembrances of the litigation and its aftermath.

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TANF and Racial Justice

By Henry A. Freedman & Mary R. Mannix

The effects of childhood poverty last well into adulthood. And yet a main safety net, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, is failing to help low-income families climb out of poverty—particularly if those families are black or Latino. Racialization infects TANF policies and administration at all levels. To help eradicate this racism and empower individual clients, advocates need to discern whether their local TANF programs are attributing racial stereotypes to recipients, and advocates must work in broad coalitions to make meaningful, lasting change.

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Variations on an Unconstitutional Theme

Restrictions on Interstate Use of Cash Benefits

By Deborah Harris & Julia Schlozman

Stories about “welfare money” being used out of state for frivolous purposes have prompted legislators in some states to propose laws that would restrict access to and spending of cash benefits to a recipient’s home state. Minnesota passed such a restriction in 2012. Prohibitions or restrictions on out-of-state access to or spending of cash benefits are constitutionally flawed because they interfere with interstate commerce and unreasonably burden the right to travel.

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The Affordable Care Act

An Effective Asset-Building Policy

By Alexander I. Hoffman & Karen K. Harris

When people think about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, they initially think about health care. They do not consider the Act’s huge impact on people’s financial security. By providing more people with access to health insurance, incentivizing participation in preventive health care, and requiring essential services from all health plans, the Act will change individual and institutional behavior in ways that will help all Americans accumulate assets.

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Black Lung Benefits for Disabled Coal Miners and Their Families

By Stephen A. Sanders

The federal black lung benefits program supports coal miners when they are totally disabled by black lung disease. It allows a deceased miner’s survivors to collect benefits when the miner died of black lung diseases. The legal process governing black lung benefits is complicated by varying sets of regulations for claims filed at different times, a unique administrative appeal structure, and complex standards for medical evidence. Because miners and their survivors live across the country, advocates nationwide need to be aware of this potential source of income for disabled miners and their families.

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This Is the Handbook on Fighting Poverty

By John Bouman

So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America, by Peter Edelman, digs deeply into the question of why wealth and resources are distributed so unevenly in the United States, the impact of the phenomenon, and how we can reverse it. Edelman uniquely grasps both the academic and real-world aspects of his subject and the barriers that U.S. attitudes toward poverty construct. He elucidates the many government antipoverty policies that have proven highly effective while casting a realistic look at the reasons that poverty remains high. Ever the optimist, he contends that if we act simultaneously on multiple fronts we can achieve poverty reduction goals.

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Federal-Benefits Paper Checks--Soon to Be a Relic

By Amanda Wyzykowski & Julie Nepveu

Beginning on March 1, 2013, federal-benefit recipients must receive their benefits electronically rather than by a paper check. The default payment form is a Direct Express debit card, but recipients may instead designate a traditional bank account, an electronic transfer account, or another general-purpose reloadable prepaid card to receive the funds. the exceptions to the required shift to electronic benefits are very limited. [Editor's Note: For more on electronic benefits, see resources available from our Assets Opportunity Unit.]

 

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Emerging Solutions to the Failure of Institutional Food

By Jota Borgmann

Food in institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and prisons is known for being unhealthy and unappetizing. In institutions such as adult homes, where many residents suffer from diabetes or hypertension, poor food can worsen residents’ health. Residents of institutions have no choice or control over their food, even though their health would benefit from a fresher, more individualized diet. Regulatory enforcement and class action lawsuits have brought only minimal improvement. More significant change has come from resident-centered meal planning and pilots such as “farm-to-institution” programs.

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Recognizing the Link Among Climate Change, Food, and Poverty

By Helen Kang

Climate change directly affects food security. It alters food production and price, which in turn influence how easily low-income families can acquire food. The link among climate change, food, and poverty is complex but essential for policymakers to understand. Explicitly acknowledging this connection will improve government decisions on issues ranging from energy policy to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program food-price index. Environmental and antipoverty advocates must work together to meet the challenges of climate change.

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Overcoming Food Insecurity Among Elders

By Susan Ann Silverstein

Older people use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at much lower rates than younger people, even though hunger is growing disproportionately among the elderly and can have serious health consequences. Changes in the application process and in the administration of SNAP can remove many of the barriers that impede seniors’ participation. Other federal nutrition programs overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services can also help protect seniors against food insecurity.

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Double Up Food Bucks

How Advocates Can Help Grow a Healthy, Sustainable Food System

By Oran B. Hesterman

Many recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits live in areas where little healthy food is available and are thus more susceptible to illness and death from diet-related disease. Farmers’ markets, many of which now accept SNAP benefits, offer healthy, local food, but few SNAP beneficiaries patronize farmers’ markets due to lack of familiarity or higher prices. Double Up Food Bucks, a Michigan project organized by Fair Food Network, encourages farmers’ market shopping by doubling the value of $20 in SNAP benefits; the project has increased purchases at farmers’ markets with SNAP benefits. A provision of the 2012 Farm Bill offers incentives to expand the program nationally.

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Protecting Households as States Stagger SNAP Issuance

By David A. Super

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) traditionally issued benefits on the first day of the month. Staggering the issuance of households’ benefits throughout the month is better for retailers and low-income consumers alike. However, without supplemental allotments of benefits to households during the transition to staggered issuance, households would be short of food. Most states and the Food and Nutrition Service have done little to provide SNAP recipients with supplemental issuances, even though the Food and Nutrition Act calls for them.

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Private Food Banks and Public Programs Fight Hunger Together

By Kate Maehr & Matt Knott

The federal government works with private food banks and charities to relieve the hunger and food insecurity of nearly forty-nine million Americans. Many of these hungry families do not receive food assistance because they are unaware of available programs, think they are ineligible, cannot navigate enrollment, or fear stigma. Individuals may encounter antihunger programs at food pantries, senior citizens’ centers, and schools. Funding for federal food programs may be cut at the same time that unemployment levels are projected to remain high, further straining public-private emergency assistance.

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Emerging Problems with Immigrants' Access to Food from Private Charities

By Susan Reed

Because many noncitizens are ineligible for government-funded nutrition programs, private charities often step in to help. However, several obstacles have arisen to food banks’ and other private entities’ provision of assistance to noncitizens. Requiring evidence of denial of help from government agencies can preclude any help for immigrants who fear contact with government actors, as can requiring government-issued photo identification that immigrants are unable to obtain. Some charities fear charges of “harboring” unauthorized immigrants to whom they provide help, although a recent decision from the Seventh Circuit should help assuage such concerns.

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Preventing Terminations of SNAP When States Fail to Recertify Households on Time

By David A. Super

The faltering economy has spurred growth in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) just when state agencies that process applications for food assistance have been forced to lay off caseworkers. New applications for SNAP are being delayed in violation of the Food and Nutrition Act. Because states are behind in processing new applications, they also fall behind in processing applications from households seeking recertification and, worse, automatically cut off food assistance to such households.

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Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign

By Billy Shore

Many advocates and organizations have devoted time and money to helping their clients get healthy, nutritious food, without major success. Share Our Strength, based in Washington, D.C., has succeeded in bringing food to America’s low-income children by focusing on public-private partnerships. The organization’s No Kid Hungry Campaign shares lessons with low-income Americans’ advocates in understanding how food insecurity affects children and how to work with policymakers.

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SNAP Basics

By Barbara Jones

Enrolling in federal nutrition programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is a challenge for low-income Americans. Many SNAP-eligible people do not enroll in the program and miss out of its benefits. Federal nutrition programs puzzle many advocates as well, but they can rely on online eligibility tools and related resources. Learning to recognize common characteristics of food-insecure clients, advocates can make sure that all SNAP-eligible clients receive the program’s benefits even if the clients did not originally seek legal advice on food access problems.

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Southern Progress

Antihunger and Food Justice Movements in Arkansas and Mississippi

By Kathy Webb & Bonnie Allen

Arkansas has made more rapid progress in fighting hunger than Mississippi, although the two states are similar in many ways. Advocates in Arkansas having made a concerted effort to collaborate with nonprofit organizations, the governor’s office, the state legislature, and corporations, Arkansas has creatively gotten more food to food banks and increased participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and summer and after-school meal programs. Mississippi’s burgeoning antihunger and food justice movement is replicating Arkansas’s.

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The Farm Bill as a Resource for Strengthening Food Systems

By Jill Krueger

When people think of the Farm Bill, they usually think of agricultural subsidies, and not of resources for helping low-income Americans eat more nutritious, healthy food. the U.S. Department of Agriculture and public health advocates are trying to broaden this narrow perception. Not only is the Farm Bill home to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other well-known federal nutrition programs, but also the Farm Bill supports farms and farmers in ways that are helping the agricultural community create sustainable community food systems.

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National Center for Law and Economic Justice's SNAP Application Delay Litigation Project

By Mary R. Mannix & Marc Cohan

Eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has increased with the economic downturn, but in several states SNAP participation has not risen accordingly, on reason being delays in application processing. The National Center for Law and Economic Justice and its cocounsel have been litigating against delays in different states and learning valuable lessons about the causes of application processing delays and how advocates can work against delays in their own communities.

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A Human Rights-Based Approach to Food Security

By Angela Duger & Martha F. Davis

A right to food is well established under international law, beginning with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Although the United States historically rejected the concept, the United States recognized food as a human right in 2011 and has incorporated human rights language into standards for domestic food programs. Advocates should consider using the right-to-food framework both the challenge structural causes of food insecurity and in representing individual clients at risk of hunger.

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Hunger in America 2012

By James D. Weill

Hunger in the United States can be more subtle than elsewhere in the world, but it is nonetheless is widespread and carries devastating consequences. Federal nutrition programs help mitigate these effects, particularly during the recession, when eligibility for and participation in these programs have skyrocketed and the entitlement to nutrition assistance has helped individuals and families avoid even more devastating poverty. Ending hunger is possible, and the linchpin of that accomplishment will be an improved economy. Meanwhile, nutrition programs are an essential support.

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Children's SSI Disability Benefits at Risk ... Again

By Rebecca D. Vallas & Elaine Alfano

A growing number of children receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be at risk of unfair termination of their SSI. About 1.2 million low-income children with severe mental and physical disabilities receive SSI, keeping many of them and their families above the poverty line. “Welfare reform” and spurious allegations of false disability claims, mental disability in particular, led to the earlier narrowing of the definition of disability for children’s SSI by Congress and a significant cut in the number of child SSI recipients. Critics are again alleging SSI abuse, especially by children with mental disorders. Pressure on the Social Security Administration to sept up its continuing disability reviews may cause disability cessations for child claimants who are found to have medically improved. Advocates need to prepare to assist these claimants in keeping their SSI.

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Goldberg on Life Support at the Social Security Administration

By Gerald A. McIntyre & Rachel Gershon

The Social Security Administration commonly fails to comply with its governing regulations and with the constitutional principles set forth in Goldberg v. Kelly when it processes appeals of proposed reductions or suspensions of benefits. The agency’s handling of the first stage of appeal, requests for reconsideration, is particularly rife with due process violations. The agency also commonly mishandles disputes on overpayments and treats appeals of findings of overpayment as requests for waiver of overpayment. Advocates, too, sometimes fail to perceive the critical distinction and should take care not to confuse appeals with waiver requests.

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Considering Eligibility for Public Benefits in Settling a Client's Claim for Damages

By Douglas Sea & Andrew Cogdell

When settling a client’s claim for damages, an attorney must consider the settlement’s possible effect on the client’s present and future eligibility for public benefits such as SSI (Supplemental Security Income), Medicaid, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), and public housing. Many public benefit programs impose limits on the amount of income and assets that a recipient may have. For some clients, a (d)(4) Supplemental Needs Trust offers a beneficial way to structure a settlement award.

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The "Right to Live"

Civil Legal Services and Human Rights

By Wendy Pollack

The right to income support--called, in international human rights law, “social security”--is perhaps the most basic of human rights and is at the heart of advocacy on behalf of low-income clients. Founders of the movement for civil legal services for the poor, closely linked in its early days to the welfare rights movement that was vibrant then, strategized about achieving recognition of a “constitutional right to live.” After U.S. Supreme Court decisions cut short that effort, advocacy turned to the state level. As economic hardship deepens for clients, a human rights focus offers new tools for achieving a right to social security.

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Using Human Rights Mechanisms of the United Nations to Advance Economic Justice

By Risa E. Kaufman & JoAnn Kamuf Ward

Even though the United States has not ratified all of the international treaties that form the core of international human rights law, American poverty lawyers can still use the human rights mechanisms of the United Nations to work toward economic justice. By participating in treaty reviews and meeting with individuals or groups who are visiting through U.N. “Special Procedures” mechanisms, legal services lawyers can heighten awareness of their clients’ concerns both domestically and internationally, thus laying the groundwork for positive social and economic change.

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An Emerging Issue in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Should Participants Be Subject to New Identification Requirements?

By Daniel Lesser & Deanne Millison

Several states have adopted or are considering legislation that would establish identification for recipients of Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits when the recipients use their electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards. This legislation is apparently driven by the unfounded myth that trafficking of SNAP benefits is rampant. In reality, trafficking is a declining problem, and the photo identification requirements on EBT cards would prove costly to states.

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Should States Allow Poor People to Use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Benefits at Fast-Food Chains?

By Barbara Jones

The alarming rise in hunger in the United States has prompted some states to authorize fast-food restaurants to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. The Restaurant Meals Program allows elderly, disabled, and homeless SNAP recipients to use their benefits in restaurants. Allowing more people to use their benefits in fast-food restaurants has incited a high-profile debate between hunger advocates and health advocates. As more states consider allowing SNAP recipients to use their benefits in fast-food restaurants, they should push fast-food restaurants to limit sodium and trans-fats in their products and increase access to healthy foods in poor neighborhoods.

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Low-Income College Students' Eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

By David A. Super

A large proportion of low-income college students can legitimately qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In many instances low-income students’ obtaining SNAP depends on the willingness of either SNAP agencies or the students’ schools to take steps to help the students qualify for one of the exceptions to the disqualification rule. SNAP administrators, financial aid officers in schools serving large numbers of low-income students, and others will benefit from reviewing the exemptions from the student rule to ensure that eligible low-income students receive the food assistance they need.

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Responding to Welfare Privatization

New Tools for a New Age

By Wendy A. Bach

Privatization of the operation of public benefit programs in the wake of welfare reform diminished the effectiveness of traditional approaches to advocacy. A case study from New York City of how private contractors succeeded in reducing welfare roles while imposing punitive policies on poor families offers a glimpse of possible new advocacy tools. Requiring contract-monitoring bodies that involve community members and advocates could help facilitate transparent contracting processes and reshape social welfare programs to serve clients.

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Social Security and Supplemental Security Income Disability Cases Involving Alcohol or Drug Use

Developments in the Last Decade

By Linda Landry

Fifteen years after Congress prohibited receiving social security disability benefits where drug or alcohol abuse is a “material factor” in the disability, the Social Security Administration has yet to promulgate regulations implementing the prohibition. Instead the agency relies on subregulatory instructions and policy statements. Advocates should become familiar with the intracacies of these statements and instructions.

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Social Security Administration Retreats from “Unknowing Flight” Doctrine and Will Pay Hundreds of Millions in Back Benefits

By Gerald A. McIntyre, Kevin Prindiville & Anna Rich

The Social Security Administration’s interpretation of the federal statutory “fugitive felon” provision deprived hundreds of thousands of older adults and people with disabilities of benefits for which they were eligible. Recent settlement of a nationwide class action in Martinez v. Astrue will restore these benefits and pay more than $500 million in retroactive benefits to a portion of the class. Outreach by advocates will be critical to ensure that the terms of the settlement are fully realized and clients receive the benefits promised.

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Improving Remote Communication Between Public Benefits Agencies and Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Individuals

By Cary LaCheen

The ability of public benefit applicants and recipients to communicate with public benefits agencies through other than face-to-face communication is critical. Advocates should be aware of potential communication barriers, legal requirements, and best practices for effective remote communication and should take on communication-access issues in their advocacy efforts.

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Congress Secures Private Right of Action for Low-Income Households Seeking Food Assistance

By David A. Super

Although suits by applicants for and recipients of food stamps long have been integral in the administration of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), two court decisions had restricted low-income households' ability to seek judicial enforcement of the Food Stamp Act--renamed the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008--and its implementing regulations. Congress overturned these decisions through provisions of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, establishing once and for all that both the Food and Nutrition Act and SNAP regulations remain judicially enforceable.

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Social Security at 75

A Celebration and a Caution

By Barbara Samuels

The Social Security Act's seventy-fifth anniversary in 2010 is a time for some reflection on how the Social Security Act came about, what social security has meant to this nation, to supporters and cynics alike, and why we should be glad and proud that the system was created and continues to exist. However, this social program, the greatest our country has ever enacted, must be safeguarded for future generations.

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Six Areas of Opportunity for Us

By Peter Edelman

Nearly two years after the election in 2008, questions abound whether enough change has occurred and what the advocacy agenda should be. The passage of the historic health care reform law, financial regulation law, and the effects of the stimulus law should be celebrated. However, in this economy that is slow to recover and a time of deficit reduction, we must stay focused on the big picture of ending poverty. We must work on low-wage jobs, extreme poverty and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, public education, high-risk youth, concentrated poverty, and the implementation of the health care law.

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Social Security Rulings--Guiding Hand in SSI Childhood Disability Evaluations

By Catherine M. Callery, Linda Landry, Louise M. Tarantino & Thomas Yates

Through Social Security Rulings in 2009 the Social Security Administration brought greater order to scattered and piecemeal policies for determining childhood disability in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The rulings focus on the functional equivalence analysis, which is the final step in childhood disability determination and the point at which the evaluation differs from that for adults. Advocates are finding the rulings helpful at the hearing stage, as administrative law judges and federal district courts are relying on the rulings in finding that children meet the criteria for SSI.

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The Measure of America

American Human Development Report 2008-2009

By Sarah Burd-Sharps, Kristen Lewis & Eduardo Borges Martins

For the first time since the United Nations Development Programme began its global Human Development series eighteen years ago, a report gauging living standards in the United States, a wealthy developed nation, has been published. The American Human Development Index—the measure of how well Americans are doing—assesses whether they are living a long and healthy life, having access to knowledge, and enjoying a decent standard of living.

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Reconstructing the Constitutional Case Against Mandatory Welfare Home Visits

By Steven D. Schwinn

The unconstitutional-conditions doctrine holds that government may not condition benefits on the surrender of individual constitutional rights. Nonetheless, since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1971 decision in Wyman v. James, welfare recipients have been subject to mandatory home visits despite the Fourth Amendment’s protection from unreasonable searches. However, the essential nexus test, which is rooted in Fifth Amendment takings claims and measures the fitness between the condition and the government goal, may offer an alternative theory for challenging mandatory home visits.

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A State Court Remedy for the Keffeler Problem

A Call to Action

By Lewis Pitts

Washington State Department of Social and Health Services v. Guardianship Estate of Keffeler, 537 U.S. 371 (2003), allows the use of a foster child’s Supplemental Security Income to reimburse states for the cost of the child’s foster care. Yet In re John G., 652 S.E.2d 266 (N.C. 2007), bars the state agency’s taking of social security benefits and brings into question the practice of converting a child’s social security benefits into a funding stream for state institutions. John G. suggests that advocates use a state court remedy to stop the taking of benefits from foster children. This is an opposing view to that of Angie Schwartz and Diana Glick’s article in the March-April 2008 Clearinghouse Review.

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Public Benefits Privatization and Modernization

Recent Developments and Advocacy

By Mary R. Mannix, Cary LaCheen, Henry A. Freedman & Marc Cohan

More states are contracting with private vendors to administer benefit programs and “modernizing” program administration by closing welfare offices in favor of “call centers” and online access. These changes affect low-income people—changes that are potentially beneficial but too often harmful, especially for vulnerable population groups such as those with disabilities or limited English proficiency. Advocates in four states that have implemented privatization or modernization have had some successes in protecting clients from harmful effects and have gained experience relevant in other states that pursue similar policies.

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The Use of Supplemental Security Income to Maximize Assets and Income for Foster Youths with Disabilities

By Angie Schwartz & Diana Glick

Laws recently enacted in California ensure that disabled foster youths who may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) have applications submitted on their behalf well before they leave foster care so that they receive SSI upon emancipation. California’s model can be replicated elsewhere. With high rates of disability and only a very small percentage receiving SSI, many youths exiting foster care become homeless, addicted, and involved in the criminal justice system. To avert this, advocates can promote policies requiring child welfare agencies to apply for SSI for youths in their care. Washington State Department of Social and Health Services v. Guardianship Estate of Keffeler, 537 U.S. 571 (2003), need not discourage advocates from making sure that foster youths with disabilities obtain SSI when they need it.

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Improving Work Supports

Using the Family Resource Simulator to Identify Problems and Test Solutions

By John Bouman, Kinsey Alden Dinan & Nancy K. Cauthen

Work support programs, such as tax credits and child care subsidies, help low-income workers enter and remain in the labor market. However, too often these programs are implemented haphazardly by states rather than as part of a comprehensive workforce strategy. Eligibility “cliffs” that result when a marginal increase in earnings leads to an even greater loss in work support benefits can cause a family’s total resources to drop precipitously. A new Web-based tool, the Family Resource Simulator, can be used to calculate the impact of work-support policies on families’ resources.

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Increasing Automation in State Computer Systems

Preventing Technological Barriers to Successful Public Benefits Administration

By Anne H. Chen

States are increasingly relying on computer automation to administer their public benefit programs to the extent that eligibility can be determined more by software design than by caseworkers. New computer systems in several states have created serious barriers for applicants, and designing technology that works accurately across benefit programs has proven to be a challenge. Advocates should anticipate these problems and intervene early when states are considering adoption of new technology to administer benefit programs.

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Legal Aid Programs and Community Colleges

A Partnership for Higher-Education Opportunities for Welfare Recipients

By Nu Usaha, Cheryl Fong & Vickie Hay

Through state work participation requirements, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families imposed on welfare recipients tough work rules and limitations on education and training needed to obtain higher-wage jobs. The work-first mentality of some state and county staff often has resulted in staff and educational and legal aid advocates working at cross-purposes in interpreting and implementing state law regulations. Advocates from legal aid programs and community colleges in California have forged a partnership to help ensure CalWORKs recipients access to postsecondary education.

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Long-Term Federal Fiscal Problem Threatens Antipoverty Efforts in the United States

By James Horney

Projected long-term federal budget deficits pose a threat to the availability of the resources needed to implement and sustain an antipoverty agenda for the new president and Congress. To help ensure that sufficient resources are available to sustain antipoverty measures, advocates of those measures need to understand the threat that these deficits pose, the reasons for the deficits, and steps that can be taken to deal with them without undermining vital federal programs

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Welfare Reform and Extreme Poverty

What to Do?

By Peter Edelman

Despite the steep decline in caseloads since welfare reform and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) began in the mid-1990s, the number of those categorized as living in “extreme poverty” has risen. The policies underlying welfare reform and the means by which they are applied have made TANF a porous safety net for the poor. Improved funding for child care, better programs for the hard-to-employ, and overhauling the time-limit rules are some of the ways in which TANF can be transformed to lift many out of extreme poverty.

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The Shriver Center's Twelve-Point National Agenda

Poverty-Fighting Ideas for a New Administration

By John Bouman

The United States can defeat poverty, providing we muster our resources and political will. We have many proven tools available to prevail in this battle, and we must be willing to experiment with other untested but promising approaches. The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law’s twelve-point antipoverty agenda is a framework for implementing public policies that make federal action central in overcoming our nation’s shameful legacy of poverty.

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Protecting Disability Benefits from Creditors

By James W. Speer

Federal and state laws that exempt disability benefits from creditor process are intended to protect the debtor’s family from impoverishment. The best way to help a client who has a disability and whose sole source of income is frozen by garnishment of an otherwise exempt account involves determining the source of benefits, where the benefits are being deposited, the creditor’s identity, and the nature of the debt. Not commingling exempt with nonexempt funds and depositing exempt funds in special electronic transfer accounts are ways to help clients avoid frozen accounts.

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Interplay Among Unemployment Insurance, Welfare, Social Security Disability, and SSI Benefits

By Kevin Liebkemann & Raymond Cebula

The primary public benefit programs accessible to persons with disabilities are unemployment insurance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, general assistance, Social Security Disability Insurance, and Supplemental Security Income. Advocates must understand how these programs work, the criteria for eligibility in each, and, most important, how they interact with one another in order better to advise and assist clients with disabilities in meeting their financial and medical needs.

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Social Security: Changes on the Horizon

Changes on the Horizon

By Linda Landry & Gerald A. McIntyre

While social security privatization, which was to be the centerpiece of President Bush’s second-term domestic policy agenda, has evaporated for now, less momentous changes have been under way. Changes are being implemented in disability determination and appeals. People with certain disabilities may receive expedited determinations of eligibility. And the long-term solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund remains in question as proposals abound to solve the problem by tinkering with benefit levels or calculation formulas rather than implementing straightforward fixes such as removing the cap on wages subject to the payroll tax.

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Making the ADA Work for Social Security Disability Beneficiaries

Life After Cleveland v. Policy Management Systems

By Alan M. Goldstein & Barbara Siegel

In 1999 in Cleveland v. Policy Management Systems Corporation the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously and (seemingly) clearly held that for plaintiffs to claim that they were disabled from working under the Social Security Act but able to work under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is not inherently inconsistent. However, eight years after Cleveland, ADA plaintiffs who are social security beneficiaries usually lose in federal court on the basis of their having applied for and received social security benefits. Cleveland and lower court rulings do provide some guidance in suggesting strategies to pursue when representing individuals in social security or ADA claims.

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New Provisions of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program

Implications for Clients with Disabilities and Advocacy Opportunities

By Cary LaCheen

The Deficit Reduction Act, signed into law last year, reauthorizes the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Among other provisions, the Act places more stringent requirements on states to require participation in work activities on the part of cash aid recipients. These changes have particular implications for the disproportionate number of recipients who have disabilities themselves or whose children have disabilities. Federal disability rights laws continue to apply to the TANF program, however, and offer advocacy opportunities as states implement the new law.

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American Human Development Report 2008

By Sarah Burd-Sharps, Kristen Lewis, Eduardo Borges Martins & William M. Rodgers III

For the first time ever for an affluent country, a nationwide American Human Development Index (HDI) will present a snapshot of how the United States fares in social and economic spheres and how different communities stack up in terms of well-being. The American Human Development Report, modeled after the United Nations’ global Human Development Reports, introduces the American HDI, explores the extremes of inequality and their costs to society, and promotes informed public policy debate on society outcomes.

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Reforming State Rules on Asset Limits

How to Remove Barriers to Saving and Asset Accumulation in Public Benefit Programs

By Dory Rand

Most states impose limits on the assets that an applicant for or recipient of public benefits may possess and still be eligible. Awareness is growing that such eligibility criteria are counterproductive. Administering asset tests imposes an administrative burden on state agencies, and few low-income households have any assets. The tests also send the inappropriate message that accumulating assets causes problems. Federal law gives states flexibility in setting asset limits, however, and a growing number of states are reforming their asset rules, including eliminating the tests altogether in their cash assistance programs.

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Collateral Estoppel and Benefits Fraud Prosecutions

People v. Garcia

By Gary F. Smith

Legal aid advocates and indigent criminal defense attorneys in California worked together to protect a welfare recipient from criminal prosecution for fraud and perjury. Applying the doctrine of collateral estoppel, the attorneys kept state prosecutors from convicting someone who had been cleared by an administrative law judge from wrongdoing in connection with an overpayment of benefits.

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The Federal Government--the Indispensable Player in Redressing Poverty

By James D. Weill

State resource shortfalls and disparities, the federal role in managing the economy, and fiscal, political, and symbolic factors dictate a fundamental and leading federal role in responding to poverty and economic insecurity. Despite its shortcomings, the federal government can mitigate the damage of poverty, inequality, and insecurity as no other sector can or is expected to do. The economic problems that many Americans face are beyond the ability--or willingness--of state and local governments, charity, and the private sector to fix by themselves.

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High-Quality, Combined Approaches

Illustrating the Promise of Antipoverty Programs

By Arloc Sherman

Two well-known programs—the New Hope Project and Perry Preschool—illustrate the potential of high-quality antipoverty efforts. When services for low-income parents and children are combined, the resulting effects may be much greater than the sum of the parts. The research findings from these programs—and others like them—help convey a credible, promising vision of what America might achieve if tried.

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The War on Poverty and Subsequent Federal Programs

What Worked, What Didn't Work, and Why? Lessons for Future Programs

By Peter Edelman

Despite mythology to the contrary, the poverty program of the 1960s, during its brief heyday, was remarkably effective in reducing poverty in the United States. Many aspects of that program continue today, albeit with lower profiles; the best known of these is likely Head Start. The poverty program of the 1960s offers many lessons from which twenty-first-century advocates should draw in contemplating how to plan a new, and even more vigorous, "war on on poverty."

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Continuing Disability Reviews

What Advocates Need to Know

By Linda Landry

The continuing disability review is what the Social Security Administration uses to determine whether disability benefit recipients continue to qualify for benefits on the basis of disability. Having found that an individual meets its disability standard, the Social Security Administration must use the medical improvement standard before finding an individual no longer eligible for disability benefits. Advocates must understand the standards of the continuing disability review to ensure that their clients are afforded all of its intended protections.

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Cooperative Advocacy

Working with the State to Improve Programs

By Jodie Berger

California advocates’ “cooperative advocacy” with the state department of social services is a good strategy especially after welfare reform and its limits on litigation options. Advocates now meet regularly with the agency on welfare issues and can comment on, and even draft, certain state directives to county welfare agencies. While contested issues and litigation remain, cooperative advocacy can shape welfare policy to maximize benefit and minimize harm to low-income clients.

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Encouraging Moderation in State Policies on Collecting Food Stamp Claims

By David A. Super

Regulations issued by the Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture in July 2000 promote efficient and effective food stamp claims collection by the states. These regulations give states significant flexibility in tailoring their procedures on filing claims. States can incorporate waiver and compromise policies that increase efficiency and can serve low-income households.

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Improving TANF for Teens

By Jodie Levin-Epstein & Angie Schwartz

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program requires teen parents in most cases to attend school and to live with a parent or other adult. While these rules may constitute good policy generally, their across-the-board application can be harmful. Focusing on teen parents, TANF programs tend to overlook the needs of nonparenting teens in TANF and other low-income families. Legal aid programs should reach out to this underserved population to ensure that teens receive necessary services and support.

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Improving Fairness and Accuracy in Food Stamp Fraud Investigations

Advocating Reform Under Food Stamp Regulations

By David A. Super

Some state food stamp agencies are overly aggressive in pursuing charges that claimants have committed intentional program violations. Just as failure to pursue allegations of fraud can undermine the Food Stamp Program's goals, so can intimidation of claimants. States should take care to follow appropriate procedures in their investigations, and Food and Nutrition Service regulations offer ample grounds to advocate fair treatment of clients. Four key principles should guide states' antifraud efforts.

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Social Security and Supplemental Security Income Overpayments

A Practical Guide

By Barbara Samuels

The Social Security Administration, in recent years, has developed a collection agency mentality in collecting social security and Supplemental Security Income overpayments. Claimants who have good overpayment defenses increasingly require legal assistance. Advocates need to understand liability for overpayments, the agency's collection methods, a claimant's options for challenging an alleged overpayment, how to develop an overpayment case, alternatives if overpayment defenses fail, and defensive tactics to prevent or limit overpayments.

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Illinois's New SSI Replacement Program for Refugees and Asylees

An Advocacy Success Story

By Daniel Lesser

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act were particularly harsh for legal immigrants. In 2003 refugees and asylees who had been unable to complete the naturalization process and become U.S. citizens began to lose their Supplemental Security Income benefits. Illinois advocates crafted a state-funded state program to replace the federal benefit this group lost.

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Immigrants' Eligibility for Federal Benefits

By Marcia Henry

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 imposed some of the most severe eligibility restrictions on benefits on lawfully present immigrants who had been receiving Supplemental Security Income and food stamps. In the late 1990s Congress restored coverage to some of the immigrants who had been receiving these benefits when the 1996 welfare law was passed. Two tables offer a user-friendly overview of immigrants' eligibility for federal public benefits.

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Preparing for and Handling Social Security Adult Disability Hearings

By Thomas Yates

Preparing an adult Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income claim for hearing before an administrative law judge can be daunting for a new advocate. A road map for this critical stage in a claimant's case shows the five-step legal definition of disability and the "grids" describes evidence development including medical source statements, discusses preparing a client to testify and submission of a prehearing statement, offers guidance on conducting the hearing, including the difficult task of cross-examining medical and vocational experts, and cites some posthearing options to complete the advocacy.

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Without Photo Identification

Barriers and Strategies

By Sara Simon Tompkins, Tulin Ozdeger & Jeremy Rosen

New security procedures block homeless people and others without photo identification from entering Social Security Administration offices to apply for Supplemental Security Income. A misconception that photo identification is necessary to apply for food stamps keeps many from receiving them. Police officers sometimes arrest homeless people for failure to present identification. Enforcing constitutional rights and regulatory options for verifying identity, helping clients get identification, and advocacy for systemwide corrections enable those without identification documents to access needed resources and vindicate their civil rights.

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Time Limits, Employment, and State Flexibility in TANF Programming

How States Can Use Time Limits and Earnings Disregards to Support Employment Goals, Preserve Flexibility, and Meet Stricter Federal Participation Requirements

By John Bouman, Margaret Stapleton & Deb McKee

Work participation rates may become stricter after Congress reauthorizes Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the welfare program mandated in 1996. States may have to adjust their programs to comply with the federal requirements and create work incentives for recipients. Maintaining state programming flexibility with state cash assistance, work supports, time-limit relief, income disregards, and other methods is critical to working recipients' adequate support.

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The TANF Child Care Collaborative

Responding to a Changed Environment for Subsidized Child Care

By Anne Erickson, Henry A. Freedman, Marcia Henry, Eve Hershcopf, Sherry Leiwant, Daniel Lesser, Marcia C. Rachofsky & Nancy Strohl

When the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program imposed work requirements on welfare recipients, advocates had to assist clients with difficult child care problems. In response to these challenges, three national legal advocacy groups launched the TANF Child Care Collaborative to support state and local organizations advocating improved child care for low-income families. The collaborative focused on increasing the capacity of state and local advocates to address child care issues in Illinois, New York, and Texas.

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Have You Seen a Fleeing Felon? Social Security Administration Targets SSI Recipients with Outstanding Warrants

By Gerald A. McIntyre

A provision of the 1996 welfare reform law restricted the availability of several categories of public benefits to "fugitive felons." While the provision has had comparatively little impact on recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, food stamps, and housing assistance, it has led to loss of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to some 78,000 people; most of them charged with offenses that are minor, remote in time, or both. The Social Security Administration is implementing the provision, and advocates can challenge its application to clients in danger of losing SSI benefits.

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Social Security Benefits' Antiassignment Protections Under Attack

By Louise M. Tarantino, Catherine M. Callery & Barbara Samuels

Federal law historically exempted social security benefits from attachment except in rare situations. However, two recent federal court decisions and other statutory changes may have altered social security benefits' antiassignment protections. The law in this area is key to protecting clients' scarce income and resources from often illegal attachments.

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An Introduction to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program

By Wendy Pollack

Created as part of the 1996 welfare law, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is the federally funded assistance program for low-income children and their families. States have broad discretion to design programs, often at the expense of federal protections for clients and accountability to clients and the public. Advocates need to assist TANF recipients on various legal issues. They must also urge states to make TANF a safety net and an opportunity for a better life for clients.

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The Welfare Advocate's Challenge

Fighting Historic Racism in the New Welfare System

By Henry A. Freedman

Race discrimination has a long history in government welfare programs. The 1996 welfare reform law expanded caseworker discretion, which can lead to disparate treatment of persons of color. Research shows that it has led to such treatment. While the 1996 reform eliminated the entitlement to welfare and recent court decisions have limited litigation under civil rights acts, there remain many viable antidiscrimination strategies, some of which advocates have yet to invent.

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Work Incentives for Persons with Disabilities Under the Social Security and SSI Programs

By James R. Sheldon Jr.

Social security disability insurance or Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries may choose not to work because they fear loss of cash benefits and health care coverage; they also face difficulty in reinstating benefits if a work attempt fails. The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 and several key regulatory changes address some of these concerns. With knowledge about these changes, advocates can help beneficiaries make informed decisions about work activity.

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Finding a Place for Low-Income Family Farmers in the Legal Services Equation

By Carl Flink

Family farmers still make up the core of rural communities and economies in many regions of the United States. Many of these farmers have very low incomes and share with their rural and urban neighbors the same poverty-related social service needs. Frequently they need legal assistance to address threats to their ability to maintain their livelihoods and keep their families housed and fed. By putting low-income family farmers into their service equation, legal services offices can add them among the constituents who can rely on their invaluable help.

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Uncharted Terrain

The Intersection of Privatization and Welfare

By Henry A. Freedman, Mary R. Mannix, Marc Cohan & Rebecca Scharf

One of the many ways in which welfare reform radically transformed cash assistance for low-income families was to transfer responsibility for many program functions from government to private agencies, both for-profit and nonprofit. This shift is the subject of intense, ongoing debate and has received minimal evaluation, but private agencies will be major players for the foreseeable future. To represent clients effectively, advocates must adapt to this changed landscape. Because little law is established, the opportunity is great to contribute to the development of new legal doctrine.

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Privatization of TANF in Florida

A Cautionary Tale

By Cindy Huddleston & Valory Greenfield

The Florida legislature yielded to the private sector not only service delivery of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families but also sweeping policy-making authority over work-related welfare issues. Although nontraditional entities administering governmental social service programs usually are bound by the same procedural protections as the government, those entities frequently misunderstand their due process obligations or dispute altogether the applicability of constitutional and administrative procedure act protections. If Florida's experience is indicative of a new trend in privatization, advocates must be ready to preserve the procedural protections that state agencies historically have provided to welfare recipients.

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Wisconsin Works—for Private Contractors, That Is

By Karyn Rotker, Jane Ahlstrom & Fran Bernstein

During the first two years of Wisconsin's implementation of Wisconsin Works, the state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, private contractors in Milwaukee County alone pocketed more than $26 million in profits. These contractors gave themselves and their staffs huge taxpayer-funded bonuses, while cutting caseloads dramatically and imposing harsh sanctions on clients. Not surprisingly, the program has not helped significant numbers of people rise out of poverty.

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Language Matters

Designing State and County Contracts for Services Under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

By Eileen P. Sweeney, Barbara L. Bezdek, Sharon Parrott, Carol W. Medaris & Cary LaCheen

As they implement welfare reform, states have entered into contracts with private organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit, to provide services families need to move from welfare to work. In many instances the states have not developed the contracts with sufficient care to help cash-aid recipients move successfully into work or with any understanding of the civil rights of people with disabilities. But efforts are under way to improve the language and design of welfare-to-work service contracts (in, e.g., Baltimore, Md., Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin) and to consider the applicability to such contracts of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

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Going Private—the Future of Social Welfare Policy?

By Matthew Diller

An analysis of three accounts of privatization shows that the implications of privatization vary according to context and are complex. President Bush's Faith-Based and Community Organization Initiative is considered against this backdrop. Because privatization of government programs may transform the social welfare system, poverty lawyers need to develop approaches for holding private entities accountable for policies and individual decisions.

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Privacy Issues Affecting Welfare Applicants

By Allison I. Brown

Although welfare applicants always have had to surrender some privacy rights to obtain public assistance, the 1996 welfare reform law requires even greater information collection from welfare applicants. Thus advocates need to know the limitations on the government's information collection that the Fourth Amendment and civil rights law impose, and they need to understand the legal restrictions on the use of the information that government agencies collect from welfare applicants.

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Immigrant Access to Food Stamps

Overcoming Barriers to Participation

By Sonya Schwartz

Many needy legal immigrants lost eligibility for the federal Food Stamp Program with the passage of welfare reform in 1996. Although Congress has mandated partial restoration of federal food stamp eligibility and some states are purchasing federal food stamp coupons for immigrants, many legal immigrants remain ineligible. Many legal immigrants and members of immigrant families who are eligible for food stamps are failing to receive them due, in part, to the enormous barriers they face when trying to apply for food stamp benefits. Advocates can help immigrants understand how eligible people may overcome barriers and gain access to the Food Stamp Program.

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New Rules, Same Standard

The Social Security Administration Adopts New Rules for Evaluating SSI Childhood Disability

By Thomas Yates

The Social Security Administration's final regulations on the childhood Supplemental Security Income disability standard, effective January 2, 2001, restate and reinforce general guidelines that apply to all childhood disability determination and rework the functional equivalence process to delink it completely from the Listing of Impairments. The final regulations do not, however, change the standard for showing disability.

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TANF and Domestic Violence

Elements of an Effective Welfare Department Intervention

By Ariella Hyman & Minouche Kandel

Research shows that significant proportions of welfare recipients are survivors of domestic violence. The authors' own experience in California suggests ten steps that welfare departments should take in implementing effective policies to assist domestic violence survivors applying for or receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Advocates need also consider domestic violence policies in the context of the coming TANF reauthorization.

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Overpaid But Underfed

The Revised Regulations Regarding Overpayment Collection in the Federal Food Stamp Program

By Jonathan Givner & Gary F. Smith

In the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, Congress made a number of changes in the federal Food Stamp Program. The first of the final regulations of the Department of Agriculture implementing the statutory changes concerns the establishment and collection of Food Stamp overpayments. Legal challenges are available to several of the more significant changes that are unfavorable to food stamp recipients.

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Re-Reforming Welfare

What Attorneys Can Do

By Gary Delgado & Maya Wiley

Preliminary findings of a survey on the effects of welfare reform indicate that access to benefits has become more difficult, the lack of administrative standards has enabled states to treat people unfairly and inconsistently, and welfare reform has compounded race and gender inequality. Legal services advocates can help make known these real effects of welfare reform. They can also apply civil rights laws to protect welfare recipients.

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Welfare Reform: Rhetoric and Reality

By Audra Wilson

Clients and advocates know all too well the disparity between welfare programs' rhetoric and reality. The National Center on Poverty Law's Let's Get It Right! project seeks to highlight this discrepancy and thus minimize it. Three issues of particular concern are education and training programs, child care difficulties, and improper termination of benefits to which clients remain entitled

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Child Care for Families Leaving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

By Sujatha Jagadeesh Branch, Cynthia Godsoe, Sherry Leiwant, Roslyn Powell, Cary LaCheen & Rebecca Scharf

Lack of adequate child care and its high cost often force working parents leaving welfare to make the impossible choice between providing inadequate care for their children and failing to provide for their families financially. Low-income families are likely to face special issues that make finding appropriate and affordable child care particularly difficult. Subsidies do not always solve problems of affordability or availability of good child care. Advocates can pursue numerous strategies to help ensure that low-income working families have access to quality, affordable child care.

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Income Supports Can Dramatically Increase Resources Available for Lower-Income Working Families

By Maurice Emsellem, Sherry Leiwant, Rick McHugh, Michael A. O'Connor & David A. Super

As legal services clients move from cash assistance into the low-wage labor market, many government-funded income supports remain available to them. Despite the potential of these programs to bolster family stability and new workers' capacity to retain jobs, the benefits often go unused for a variety of reasons. Four of the most important income supports—the Earned Income Tax Credit, child care subsidies, food stamps, and unemployment insurance—are reviewed, and suggestions are offered to legal services practitioners who want to ensure that their clients have access to these resources.

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Current Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Developments in Congress and the Supreme Court

By Gerald A. McIntyre & Jenny Kaufmann

The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 expanded health care coverage for social security disability and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries who want to work but do not want to risk losing health care benefits. For SSI recipients, the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 reinstated the penalty for transferring resources for less than fair market value. Relevant Supreme Court decisions as well as the district court decision in Ford v. Shalala, finding that written notices in the SSI program are inadequate, are reviewed.

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Is Welfare Reform Right for Grandparents?

Structuring Welfare Reform to Accommodate the Needs of Older Adults in Families with Children

By John Bouman

Multigeneration low-income families are feeling the brunt of welfare reform. Although policymakers often do not consider seniors and children together in a larger notion of "family policy," public policies and implementation systems involving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and other benefit programs can be variously adapted toward improving the lives of older adults in families with children.

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Meeting Needs, Measuring Outcomes

The Self-Sufficiency Standard as a Tool for Policy-Making, Evaluation, and Client Counseling

By Jennifer Brooks & Diana Pearce

Developed by Wider Opportunities for Women, the self-sufficiency standard measures how much income is needed by a family of a given composition in a given place to meet its needs adequately and without public or private assistance. This standard, which differs from the federal poverty measure, can be used as a benchmark to measure welfare and work-force development policy outcomes, to demonstrate the impact of public policy alternatives, to target higher-wage sectors of the economy, and to change how caseworkers counsel clients about jobs and careers.

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Welfare Reform and Women with Felony Drug Convictions

Research Results and Policy Recommendations

By Amy E. Hirsch

Federal welfare law provides that, unless a state affirmatively passes legislation to the contrary, anyone with a felony drug conviction after August 22, 1996, is permanently barred from receiving cash assistance and food stamps. Results of interviews with women convicted of felonies and with the staff of agencies dealing with criminal justice, drug treatment, and public health support the recommendation that women in recovery from addiction should be allowed access to subsistence benefits and that the ban on benefits should be eliminated.

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The Importance of Issues at the Intersection of Housing and Welfare Reform for Legal Services Work

By Barbara Sard

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 and the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998 create new imperatives for legal services and intersect in ways requiring providers to broaden the focus of welfare rule enforcement to include policy advocacy. As benefits expire and families face welfare-to-work obligations, legal services advocates should consider the new housing law and the advocacy opportunities it opens on rent policies in federally assisted housing programs.

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A High Dive into a Water Glass? Serving the "Hard to Serve" in Welfare-to-Work

By John Bouman

While welfare reform's mandatory time limits have contributed to unprecedented drops in this country's welfare rolls, we should not assume that applying work-first strategies to recipients who are the hardest to serve will lead to self-sufficiency. Advocates, human service agencies, and policymakers must study why many recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families have difficulty securing gainful employment and must craft strategies to address what is learned about them.

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New Barriers to Public Benefits and Related Litigation

By Vicki Gottlich, Gerald A. McIntyre, Herbert Semmel & Ethel Zelenske

Some recent Supreme Court and federal circuit court of appeals case law appears to impede the advocate's ability to litigate public benefits and related matters. Potential barriers affect the choice of forum, the issues that may be raised, who can be named as a defendant, and the relief that may be requested.

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Access to Public Benefits for Battered Immigrant Women and Children

By Leslye Orloff

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRA) and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996 significantly reduced access to federal public benefits for most immigrants. However, these laws also expanded access to public benefits for some battered immigrants who had been ineligible for assistance. Some immigrants, including some battered immigrants, remain eligible for certain public benefits, and the PRA grants access to some federal benefits to "qualified aliens." With certain provisos, current law makes battered immigrants eligible for public benefits.

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Discrimination in Agricultural Lending

By Stephen Carpenter

Appealing the U.S. Department of Agriculture's denial of loan application or using the Equal Credit Opportunity Act may help farmers who are discriminated against survive in an agricultural world that is highly sensitive to the availability of credit and vulnerable for reasons of race or gender.

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Supplemental Security Income and the Family Law Attorney

Using Creative Alimony, Child Support, and Property Settlements to Maximize Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid

By James R. Sheldon Jr. & Diana M. Straube

Family law attorneys must know basic Supplemental Security Income benefit rules to represent competently the interests of disabled clients who are expected to benefit from alimony, child support, or any other cash or property settlements resulting from a divorce or related action. When arranging such settlements, attorneys should consider creative resolutions in order to maximize the amount of benefits to which their clients may be entitled.

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Handling Social Security and Supplemental Security Income Disability Cases Involving Alcohol or Drug Use

An Update

By Linda Landry

Since 1995, back-to-back legislative changes have made obtaining social security and Supplemental Security Income disability benefits for individuals with substance-abuse problems increasingly difficult. An individual may not be found eligible for these benefits if drug addiction or alcoholism is "material" to the disability determination. In handling these challenging cases, advocates may find it necessary to educate Social Security Administration adjudicators on the relevant law and policy.

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The Effect of Welfare Reform on Immigrant Children

By Gillian Dutton

Welfare reform's changes in immigration laws—aimed at working-age adults—may have a lasting effect on immigrant children in the United States. By familiarizing themselves with the most common barriers to assistance and ways to overcome them, advocates can help immigrant children access the benefits they need to lead better lives.

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The Unnecessary Tragedy of Fatherless Children

Welfare Reform's Opportunities for Reversing Public Policies That Drove Low-Income Fathers out of Their Children's Lives

By Margaret Stapleton

Recent welfare law changes offer opportunities for assisting low-income fathers in their efforts to escape poverty and reconnect with their children. After decades of neglect of and even hostility toward low-income fathers, adoption of public policies and programs that support fathers' efforts to be part of their children's lives would benefit parents, children, and society.

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Housing for Families with Children and the New Welfare System

By David B. Bryson

Just when their situation could not get much worse, families in public and assisted housing were dealt another blow in 1998 when Congress passed legislation allowing landlords to favor as tenants families of moderate income. The upshot is that children may lose housing when welfare's time limits hit and before then if sanctions are imposed, even when barriers make it impossible to find and keep a job. Housing providers, however, can help families make a successful transition out of poverty.

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The Dedicated Account Rules

Retroactive Supplemental Security Income Benefits for Disabled Children

By Richard P. Weishaupt, Jonathan M. Stein & Robert J. Lukens

Congress restricted, as part of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, the spending of retroactive Supplemental Security Income benefits paid on behalf of disabled children. Because such a revised standard for spending restricts parental decision making to a considerable degree, clients need to be warned of new rules like this before they misuse or misapply funds. Parents and advocates should also be aware that Social Security Administration field offices are often applying the new rules incorrectly and too restrictively.

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Teens and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Block Grant Program

By Martha Matthews

As a particularly vulnerable population, teen parents and other teens in low-income families may be adversely affected by welfare reform initiatives. In addition to documenting the effect of welfare reform on teens, advocates need to ensure that welfare programs fairly address the special needs of teens regarding living arrangements, school attendance and performance requirements, welfare-to-work programs, child support enforcement, and other issues.

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Teen Parents and Welfare Reform Policy

By April Kaplan

As a result of welfare reform, teen parents are subject to many new laws, regulations, and restrictions. States are mandating school attendance, requiring teenage mothers to live in adult-supervised settings, and focusing on teen parents in welfare-to-work programs. Certain policy considerations should be taken into account by states when developing initiatives for teen parents, and innovative programs implemented by various states and communities have successfully served teen parents.

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Assessing the Effect of Welfare Reform on Child Welfare

By Martha Matthews

Advocates are beginning to examine the implications of welfare reform for child welfare systems and the children and families involved with those systems. Even in the absence of much concrete data on changes in child welfare systems, welfare reform raises serious questions about support for kinship caregivers, teen parent policies, and help for families with substance abuse problems. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program may increase poor families' involvement with the child welfare system; advocates are analyzing emerging issues relating to welfare-to-work requirements, child care, sanctions, and family reunification and are developing strategies for addressing these problems.

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Welfare Reform and Child Care

Needs of Families Living with Domestic Violence

By Alice Bussiere & Roslyn Powell

One of the many effects of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act was the creation of a tremendous demand for child care. Battered women and children exposed to domestic violence have special child care needs not shared by other families. Safe, affordable, and appropriate child care is essential for a successful transition from welfare to work. The key to addressing the child care needs of poor families victimized by domestic violence is greater dialogue and collaboration between child care providers, domestic violence programs, and local advocates.

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The Section 502 Single-Family Housing Program

Does It Still Meet the Needs of Rural Borrowers?

By Susan A. Reif & Jennifer Ide

Since it was centralized in the wake of welfare reform, the Section 502 Single-Family Housing Program has not been fulfilling its intended purpose of providing financial assistance to farmers who cannot get credit elsewhere. While the program is still targeted at low-income rural borrowers, it is not specifically designed to meet their needs. Still, advocates can help Section 502 Program borrowers take advantage of the loan servicing to which they are entitled.

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Recipient Concerns with the Use of Electronic Benefit Transfer Systems for the Deliveryof State and Federal Benefits

By Barbara Leyser

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 requires states to convert the delivery of food stamp benefits from paper coupons to electronic benefit transfer systems by 2002. While the conversion has advantages, our most vulnerable citizens are not adequately protected under the new delivery systems and are likely to need more basic consumer protections than general consumers.

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The Potential of Child Support as an Income Source for Low-Income Families

By Paula Roberts

With the passage of the new welfare law and the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, low-income mothers, especially those in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, may benefit from increased child-support income becoming available to them. Programs to increase earning potential of low-income fathers, child-support assurance, changes in child-support distribution policies, and protections for victims of domestic violence would contribute to making child support a viable source of income.

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State and Local Policies on Immigrants and Public Benefits

Responding to the 1996 Welfare Law

By Tanya Broder

This article gives an overview of state policies on immigrants and benefits that have developed since the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, and the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. It explores issues that immigrant communities confront as welfare policy "devolves" to the local level; it also describes strategies to ensure that immigrants and their families secure the benefits that they need.

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Implementation of the Food Stamp Provisions in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996

By Alison Goldberg & Carrie M. Lewis

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 makes significant changes in the federal Food Stamp Program. This article explains how the Act widens the gap between rich and poor and explores various tools advocates and states may use to ensure that unemployed childless adults and legal immigrants, who are among the most vulnerable populations, receive some assistance.

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Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the Americans with Disabilities Act

By Herbert Semmel & Cary LaCheen

The new federal welfare law confuses many of the most vulnerable welfare recipients, including persons with disabilities. This article examines how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can be used to protect Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients against disability discrimination in light of new stringent work requirements. It also explores how the ADA affects state TANF programs that are supposed to provide opportunities for job training, employment, and child care.

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Welfare Litigation Developments Since the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996

By Mary R. Mannix, Marc Cohan, Henry A. Freedman, Christopher Lamb & Jim Williams

Despite the elimination of federal statutory and regulatory protections that had been the basis for significant welfare litigation prior to the passage of the 1996 welfare act, litigation continues to be critical in halting unfair state welfare practices. This article reviews recent welfare litigation, including the notable success in the areas of discrimination against new state residents and abusive workfare policies.

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Welfare Advocacy

Tactics for a New Era

By Sharon M. Dietrich, Irv Ackelsberg, Deborah L. Freedman, Louise E.Hayes & Richard P. Weishaupt

The restrictions imposed on legal services programs funded by the Legal Services Corporation do not require them to watch passively from the sidelines as welfare reform takes its toll on low-income clients. This article highlights some important areas of potential work for local programs willing to remain engaged in welfare advocacy.

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Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

Assessments, Individual Responsibility Plans, and Work Activities

By Wendy Pollack

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 has produced new issues for which welfare applicants and recipients need legal representation. This article explains that reliance on traditional ways of delivering legal services alone will fail clients for a variety of reasons and presents an overview of agency responsibilities. It suggests strategies for ensuring long-term employability and a meaningful transition to work instead of simply eliminating welfare receipt.

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The Aftermath of Welfare Reform

SSI Childhood Disability

By Thomas Yates

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 provided a new statutory definition of disability for children claiming Supplemental Security Income benefits and directed the Social Security Administration to make changes in the way it evaluates childhood disability claims. This article describes the new childhood disability sequential evaluation and the redetermination and appeals process.

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Litigation on Restrictions on Supplemental Security Income for Noncitizens

By Gerald A. McIntyre

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 drastically limits the availability of Supplemental Security Income benefits for legal immigrants, and these limits are based solely on alienage. This article explores developments in the various circuits in cases brought to protect certain noncitizens from being denied benefits that provide subsistence.

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A Community-Based Response to Welfare Reform

By Tanya Neiman

The repercussions of welfare reform are starting to become apparent, and the ripple effects promise to hurt the young and old, citizens and noncitizens alike. This column describes how San Francisco's Volunteer Legal Services Program, by mobilizing and aligning itself with other state players with whom it was sometimes at odds, has met many of the challenges states currently face from cuts in federal assistance.

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Toward a Unified Child Care Subsidy System

A Model Fee Scale for Family Copayments

By Daniel Lesser

As a result of the elimination of the child care guarantee for welfare recipients and the consolidation of funding streams for child care for welfare recipients and the working poor, states may create unified child care subsidy systems that serve both groups. This article presents a model child care family copayment sliding fee scale that seeks to maximize poor families' access to quality child care available through the subsidy system.

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The Family Violence Option of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996

Interpretation and Implementation

By Wendy Pollack & Martha F. Davis

The Family Violence Option of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, if properly implemented, can give states significant flexibility in addressing the needs of poor battered women. This article describes the option, its interpretation, and guidelines for successful implementation.

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Changes in Supplemental Security Income Disability Program May Spell Loss of Benefits for Tens of Thousands of Children

By Thomas Yates

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 makes several changes in the children's Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, the most far-reaching being the tightening of the children's SSI disability standard. This article discusses these changes, issues raised in implementation of the Act';s new childhood disability standard, and the overall impact of other welfare program changes.

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The Welfare Law and Its Effects on Medicaid Recipients

By The National Health Law Program, The National Center for Youth Law & The National Senior Citizens Law Center

Although, on paper, the new welfare law preserves entitlement to Medicaid, coverage for several groups of poor people will be dramatically affected by the law's implementation. This article analyzes the effect of the welfare law on Medicaid, in particular, how the law affects coverage of families with children, children in foster care and children with special needs, children with disabilities, and immigrants.

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The Family Law Implications of the 1996 Welfare Legislation

By Paula Roberts

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act of 1996 contains a number of provisions of importance to family law practitioners and their clients, in particular, changes with respect to paternity establishment and enforcement of child support orders that could be extremely helpful to those who need and want child support. For clients who rely on public assistance, these changes have added importance.

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Preserving Services for Immigrants

State and Local Implementation of the New Welfare and Immigration Laws

By The National Immigration Law Center

Immigrants are drastically affected by benefit restrictions imposed by the welfare act as well as the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. These restrictions reach well beyond the traditional welfare programs to other services, including supplemental security income and food stamps. This article discusses the many choices state and local governments face in implementing the new welfare and immigration laws.

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The Impact of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 on Food and Nutrition Programs

By Carrie M. Lewis

Although the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 maintains the Food Stamp Program as an entitlement, it cuts the program by over $27 billion over six years, restricts eligibility, and eliminates a number of recipient protections. The Act also cuts funding for several child nutrition programs, including the Summer Food Service Program and the Child and Adult Care Food Program. This article reviews the major changes in nutrition programs, analyzes the potential impact of the changes, and suggests areas for advocacy.

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Legal Representation and Advocacy Under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996

By Alan W. Houseman

As the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 makes drastic, fundamental changes in government programs affecting low-income persons, it has a critical effect on legal advocacy for the poor. This article sets out the framework for the advocacy that will be necessary to respond to developments and discusses what programs funded by the Legal Services Corporation can do to carry out their vital role in representing low-income clients in this new environment.

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Welfare Reforming the Workplace

Protecting the Employment Rights of Welfare Recipients, Immigrants, and Displaced Workers

By Sharon M. Dietrich, Maurice Emsellem & Karen Kithan Yau

Workfare has taken on new dimensions with the work requirements mandated by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant. This article examines the mechanics and implications of these requirements, the elimination of employment protections for workfare participants, the expansion of workfare into the private sector, and ways to maximize training opportunities in light of TANF's mechanisms for discouraging education and training in favor of immediate work.

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Implementation of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Block Grant

An Overview

By Mary R. Mannix, Henry A. Freedman, Marc Cohan & Chris Lamb

Abolishing the nation's 61-year commitment to a federal safety net for poor families with children, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act repealed the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program, which was aiding some five million families, and replaced it with the fundamentally different Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. This article briefly reviews the state TANF implementation process and discusses key choices and constraints states face under TANF, with particular emphasis on areas where advocacy efforts are needed.

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Are Claims Under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Social Security Act Inconsistent?

By Michael R. Schuster & Stephen M. Koslow

Recently, many courts have held that a claimant who files for disability benefits under the Social Security Act is estopped from pursuing a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This article discusses the different definitions of disability under both the ADA and the Social Security Act and some of the cases on both sides of this issue.

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Welcome to Procrustes' House

Welfare Reform and Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

By Faith Mullen

Recently enacted federal welfare reform legislation will make it more difficult for grandparents to obtain public benefits on behalf of the grandchildren in their care. This article addresses some of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act's provisions that are likely to have significant consequences for grandparents raising grandchildren.

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Twice Victimized—Domestic Violence and Welfare "Reform"

By Wendy Pollack

Several welfare reform provisions that were included in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1995 and are already incorporated in several state waiver programs will have particularly devastating effects on recipients who are victims of domestic violence. This article discusses these provisions and ways to decrease the danger they pose to victims and their children.

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Prisoners of Abuse

Policy Implications of the Relationsbip Between Domestic Violence and Welfare Receipt

By Jody Raphael

New research linking long-term welfare receipt and domestic violence has important implications for the current drift of welfare reform policy at both the federal and state levels. This article summarizes recent findings and offers basic guidance for the development of welfare policies that are more sensitive to the unique needs of Aid to Families with Dependent Children recipients who are domestic violence victims and survivors.

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Consideration of Pain and Other Factors in Rating Disabilities

By Ronald B. Abrams & Meg Bartley

Veterans who are service connected for musculoskeletal disabilities often experience limitation of motion and pain caused by their service-connected conditions. In DeLuca v. Brown, the U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals addressed the issue of whether pain and weakness in plaintiff's left arm, caused by a service-connected muscoloskeletal condition, should be considered in addition to the limitation of motion caused the by the left-arm condition.

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Recent Legislation Eliminates Drug Addiction and Alcoholism as a Basis for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income Disability Benefits

By Ethel Zelenske & Thomas Yates

The Contract with America Advancement Act of 1996, Pub L. No. 104-121, eliminated drug addiction and alcoholism as a basis for disability in both the social security (Title II) and supplemental security income disability programs. This article gives a summary of the legislation and of the Social Security Administration's implementing instructions, as well as practice tips for advocates.

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Protecting the Safety Net

Food Stamp Benefits and the Waiver Process

By Patricia Collins Murdock & Deborah L. Stein

Unlike the liberal waiver authority granted to the Department of Health and Human Services under Section 1115 of the Social Security Act, the authority of the Department of Agriculture to waive provisions of the Food Stamp Act has strict limitations. This article explains the food stamp waiver process and suggests ways for advocates to influence the process.

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A Due Process Primer

Litigating Government Benefit Cases in the Block Grant Era

By Nancy Morawetz

The prospect of block grant legislation that would transform federal benefit programs has dramatic implications for the litigation of basic issues of procedural fairness in the administration of those programs. This article reviews recent case law that shapes the degree to which the courts will honor due process claims, suggests strategies for asserting procedural claims, and offers cautionary notes on the ways in which procedural claims may undermine client interests.

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Challenging Child Exclusion Programs

By Martha F. Davis

Despite their apparent popularity, child exclusion programs are controversial and, many advocates contend, illegal. This article outlines potential legal claims challenging the exclusion of children from their families' Aid to Families with Dependent Children grant merely because they were conceived and born after the family began receiving welfare.

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Receivership as a Remedy for Poor Agency Performance

By Lynn E. Cunningham & Dennis Foley

Advocates for poor people should strongly consider asking the courts for receiverships and the appointment of special masters to oversee necessary reforms in public agencies that are failing low-income clients. This article, which includes a case study, discusses the advantages of receivership and the legal standards and strategies for obtaining receivership.

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Recent Developments in Food Stamp Program Law

By Deborah L. Stein

Whether the Food Stamp Program will change significantly in 1996 remains unclear, but a federal structure will remain. Therefore, Food Stamp Program developments in 1994 and 1995 will have continuing relevance. This article reviews regulatory changes and several court decisions that occurred in 1994 and 1995.

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Seeking to Deter Parental Behavior Through Welfare Policy

New Jersey's Child Exclusion, Housing, and Homelessness

By David G. Sciarra

New Jersey was the first state to adopt and implement child exclusion, but other states have since obtained section 1115 waivers from the Department of Health and Human Services. This article describes how New Jersey's child exclusion works, including the reductions in cash assistance triggered by the birth of an excluded baby and the effect of those reductions on the family's ability to meet housing needs.

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Social Security Advocacy After Your Client's Application for Benefits Has Been Granted

By Michael R. Schuster, Zita Dresner & Kathleen M Harrigan

The advocates work is not over once a client establishes entitlement to benefits from the Social Security Administration. This article describes some of the steps that an advocate can take to resolve problems that may delay a client's receipt of benefits, reduce the benefit award, and/or lead to benefit reductions.

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Implementation of Drug Addiction and Alcoholism Provisions in Disability Cases

By Ethel Zelenske

This column describes the implementation of provisions of the Social Security Administrative Reform Act of 1994 restricting disability benefit payments to drug and alcohol abusers. Among other things, the provisions impose a 36-month payment limitation on beneficiaries, require the suspension of benefits for noncompliance with treatment, and require beneficiaries to receive benefits through a representative payee.

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Welfare Developments in 1994

By The Center on Social Welfare Policy and Law

During the past year, federal welfare reform proposals caused great concern among families receiving AFDC and their advocates. In addition to reviewing the themes of the major federal proposals and their status, this article summarizes the major court decisions and legislative and administrative actions of the past year that will have an impact on poor families in need of AFDC.

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Representing Food Stamp Claimants in Fraud and Overissuance Cases

By Louisa Nickers, Hunter Labovitz, Carrie M. Lewis & Helen Hershkoff

Although intentional violations of the Food Stamp Program (IPVs) are rare, media coverage of sensational fraud oases has created the perception of rampant abuses. States are aggressively enforcing the Food Stamp Act's antifraud provisions, which leads to infringement of claimant's rights. This article examines the fraud and overissuance recovery process and presents suggestions for addressing problems.

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Social Policies for a Global Economy

By Katherine McFate

These are the thought-provoking opening remarks made at the Uniting Support Conference held in Chicago in September 1992. The author takes the position that our present welfare system is not very good and that, rather than go along with it, advocates for the poor must push for affirmative, proactive reform. The author looks at poverty in other industrial countries and explains why other countries have done a better job than the United States in protecting their citizens from material hardship.

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Welfare Law Developments

By The Center on Social Welfare Policy and Law

This article reviews welfare developments during the past year, including AFDC and GA benefit reductions, state AFDC demonstration projects with provisions designed to regulate recipients' behavior, child care for AFDC recipients in JOBS programs, electronic benefit transfer systems, and final HHS regulations involving the "minor parent" provision.

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Food Stamp Program Developments

By Carrie M. Lewis

The 1991 technical amendments to the 1990 Farm Bill changed several significant aspects of the Food Stamp Program, including the application process, eligibility criteria, and grievance procedures. Some of these changes were favorable to clients; some were not. This article discusses these and other legislative changes as well as recent litigation that affects food stamp applicants and recipients.

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Work and Poverty

State-Level Policies That "Make Work Pay"

By Iris J. Lav & Isaac Shapiro

Although federal tax changes have removed most poor families from the federal Income tax rolls, state and local governments have been increasing the tax burden imposed on the poor. As a result, a large number of the working poor cannot raise themselves out of poverty. This article examines some of the methods that states have taken to help the working poor, including higher minimum wages, more gradual welfare benefit reductions for working families, policies to exempt the working poor from state Income taxes, earned income credits, state sales tax offset credits, and state property tax circuit breakers.

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Welfare Law Developments

By The Center on Social Welfare Policy and Law

This article reviews welfare developments from October 1990 to September 1991, including changes in AFDC-UP, benefit levels, electronic benefit transfer systems, pass through payments, and tax credits.

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PASS: SSI's Plan for Achieving Self Support

By James R. Sheldon Jr.

For individuals with disabilities, SSI's Plan for Achieving Self Support (PASS) offers a way out of poverty by allowing them to move from dependence on benefits to financial independence. Using practical examples, this article describes how to assist a client in formulating a PASS proposal.

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Representing Individuals with Disabilities in Securing Social Security and Supplemental Security Income Disability Benefits

By Eileen P. Sweeney

An advocate representing a person with a disability in securing disability benefits needs to know the basic social security and SSI rules. This article describes the eligibility requirements, the statutory and regulatory rules defining disability, how disability determinations are made, and the appeals process.

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Woman Battering

A Major Cause of Homelessness

By Joan Zorza

Battered women are a large and largely unrecognized group: half of all married women, for example, will experience some form of violence from their spouse. Even more unrecognized is that woman battering is a major cause of homelessness for both women and children. This article explores the connection between domestic violence and loss of shelter and makes recommendations for minimizing homelessness for battered women.

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Child Poverty in America

By James D. Weill

Nearly 13 million of the nation's children—about one in five—live in poverty. The stereotype of poor children has proved to be inaccurate and inadequate: poverty among children is not just urban, it is also rural and suburban. How the nation can address this mounting problem, and what the consequences will be if it doesn't, are examined in this lead article.

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The Zebley Class Rules

By Joseph Manes

The Zebley class consists of children whose SSI eligibility was denied or terminated on medical grounds between 1980 and 1991. All members of the class, as well as those children whose disability cases are pending in federal court, now have an opportunity to have their cases readjudicated. This article summarizes the rules for readjudication, including rules on notice, timetables, and quality assurance.

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The Rights of the Disabled in the Food Stamp Program

By David A. Super & Eve H. Shapiro

Recognizing the special challenges elderly and disabled people face in obtaining a nutritious diet, the Food Stamp Act provides them with preferential treatment. However, narrow regulatory interpretations by the Department of Agriculture deny full benefits to many of these food stamp recipients. This article highlights the areas in which disabled persons encounter problems in receiving the full benefits to which they are entitled.

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Placing School Lunch and Breakfast Programs Back on the Advocacy Menu

By Jonathan M. Stein & Paul Minorini

Under a little-publicized 1989 amendment to the National School Lunch Act, a school district may directly certify children of families receiving AFDC or food stamp benefits as "automatically eligible" for free lunches and breakfasts; this article describes how advocates in Philadelphia worked with the local school district to expand participation in these programs.

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Welfare Law Developments

By The Center on Social Welfare Policy and Law

Last year, some of the key changes made by the Family Support Act of 1988 took effect and a new AFDC Quality Control program started; meanwhile, two state courts held that state law requires AFDC agencies to establish realistic need standards.

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Introduction to the WIC and CSFP Programs

By The Food Research and Action Center & The American Civil Liberties Union

The Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program are preventive programs that provide special foods, nutrition education, referrals to health care and other services, and supportive services to pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and young children.

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Welfare Law Developments

By The Center on Social Welfare Policy and Law

Litigation during the past year addressed many issues in the AFDC program, including inadequate benefits, burdensome procedures, improper enforcement of child support cooperation requirements, and erroneous distribution of child support collections; in addition, the Family Support Act of 1988 made a variety of changes in welfare law.

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