Civil Rights For Public Assistance Recipients

In 1996 many changes were made to how people in the United States receive TANF - Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. These changes were hailed as a way to help people on assistance move back to self sufficiency.

The original idea seemed good. Have people look for work as a requirement for receiving assistance. In the previous post how this actually works is covered. The program has been considered a failure - not only by those using it, but by people on all sides of the issue. When looking at the way many counties - not just Allegany County, NY - uses recipients to avoid using 'real' employees. City and county governments fire or lay off regular employees in order to receive free labor from what are in essence slaves to the state.

Democrats and Republicans alike dislike such programs. While it is true that there should be safety nets in place for people around the country, how these programs are implemented can be a dangerous, slippery slope. Recipients can end up dependent on the system because of how the system is using them.

As a Democrat I am not ashamed to say that this is one area where the non-insane Republicans have it right. Using welfare makes users dependent. This dependence isn't always due to any fault of the recipients. For example, in the previous post it was explained how people forced into JobTrak and similar programs must work without pay for what equates to full time employment hours.

Several Allegany County recipients (non-parolee workers) have been sanctioned for missing JobTrak work due to going to job interviews. While this is against regulation, the practice continues. One JobTrak 'liasion' in the Allegany County JobTrak department told another recipient to schedule physical therapy and doctor appointments around JobTrak work.

How is this possible? How are people to gain employment if they are punished for going to job interviews? How can a person be punished for trying to improve health in order to become employable?

It is possible because recipients allow it to happen.

All recipients of TANF, SNAP, and other public assistance in ALL states have rights. Their rights are often disregarded by workers. These social workers or other social service employees must follow state regulations concerning the rights of ALL recipients, no matter how much or how little the individual or family receives in assistance.

A discussion of civil rights and Workfare is discussed here: A New Paradigm for Welfare Reform

For those that feel their Civil Rights are being violated, again this is NOT just in New York. The US Department of Health and Human Services have forced other states to comply with Civil Rights regulations. Information for anyone in need of help can be found here: TANF INFORMATION US Department of Health and Human Services.

Next post- A look at SNAP benefits for people on SSI, SSD, and other incomes. Who qualifies? Who needs it? Why aren't more people being helped?