Monday, September 17, 2007

Florida's welfare rate is lowest in the nation

Florida had the nation's lowest rate of households on welfare last year, according to figures recently released by the U.S. Census.

Just 1.3 percent of Florida households reported receiving welfare payments in 2006.

Florida's monthly benefit of $303 ranked 43rd in the nation -- ad that's still the maximum benefit today for a family of three, according to Don Winstead, deputy secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, which determines eligibility for welfare payments, also known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. (Want to apply? Click here.)

Winstead thinks the lower payments have helped maintain the state's standing among those with the lowest rates for welfare recipients. "That absolutely plays a role," he said. "Largely [it's the state] just not wanting to set benefits too high to encourage people to be on welfare rather than working."

The federal welfare reform law, passed 1996, made changes intended to make welfare more of a temporary benefit. The federal law said beneficiaries had to start working no later than two years after they first receive welfare. Florida requires them to start working right away.

In 1996, more than 200,000 Florida families received. There are fewer than 50,000 now.

Read the Tampa Tribune story here.


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