The Personal Responsibility and Work Reconciliation Act of 1996 was enacted to encourage welfare recipients to find work, and to reward states for helping welfare recipients find work. Essentially, the act provides a limited amount of time for welfare recipients to find work, and if they have not found it beyond that point, they will no longer continue to receive welfare funding.

What Are the Requirements for a Welfare Recipient?

A welfare recipient must find a job within 2 years of going on welfare in order to stay eligible for time-limited financial assistance. The work required under the Personal Responsibility and Work Reconciliation Act can qualify as subsidized or unsubsidized employment, on-the-job training, work experience, community service, 12 months of vocational training, or provide child care services to individuals participating in community service.

A single parent on welfare is required to work at least 30 hours a week to qualify for time-limited financial assistance, while two-parent families on welfare must work at least 35 hours a week.

After 5 years of assistance, a family is no longer eligible for cash aid from the welfare program, though states are allowed to make a certain number of exceptions to this.

There are also some exceptions for these time limits. A common exception to the time limits is if a parent who has sole custody of a child under 6 is unable to find child care that would allow them to work. States can also exempt single parents of a child under 1 year old from the work requirements.

What Is Required of States under the Law?

Generally, states must assist in helping welfare recipients find work by assessing each individual’s work skills to see what kind of work they would be suited for. In addition, states are allowed to use some of their federal funding from welfare to create subsidized jobs for welfare recipients.

Who Can I Talk to Regard a Welfare Payment Dispute?

You may want to consult with a government lawyer if you have questions about welfare. Your attorney will be able to advise you of your rights and let you know if you may be entitled to compensation from a mistake or discriminatory action made by the state or federal government.