August 23, 2022

Florida welfare benefits unchanged since 1997; number in need has only grown alongside inflation

Sam Sachs writes:

The unprecedented effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 paused work requirements for Florida welfare beneficiaries. Now in 2022, those halts on work requirements are gone, but the economic upheaval has continued, with inflation reaching historic highs and solutions still in progress.

The federal poverty level for a family of three is $23,030 before taxes. That number is the annual income for a mom, a dad and a single child to qualify as poor in the United States. For an individual, to count as someone living in poverty, you have to make $13,590 per year or less, before taxes.

While the state’s population, economy, and industries have changed, the welfare benefits have not.


According to the Florida Policy Institute, a non-profit, non-partisan organization [emphasis added], Florida families must have little or no income in order to get benefits from TANF. The organization said 'very few families meet that criterion.' They said one factor affecting benefit amounts is that the state 'Legislature has not updated benefit payments for the program in three decades.'


Additionally, residents with felony drug trafficking convictions are ineligible to receive any state assistance, for welfare or food stamps, according to state law. The FPI said this particular policy decision 'had already cost Florida more than $70 million due to high re-arrest rates,' by 2017, due to the lack of support for those exiting the correctional system."


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