OPTING OUT OF FEDERAL BAN ON FOOD STAMPS AND TANF

SUMMARY OF STATE LAWS MODIFYING THE FEDERAL BAN ON TANF (CASH ASSISTANCE) AND FOOD STAMPS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following is a compilation of the laws in the 24 states that have modified– but not entirely eliminated – the federal ban on food stamps and TANF.

(1) States Which Condition Eligibility on the Individual’s Enrollment or Successful Completion of a Drug-Related Treatment Program, Sentence or Probation

States which condition eligibility for cash assistance and food stamps on the previously convicted individual’s enrollment in or successful completion of a drug and alcohol treatment program include Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington.

  • Colorado: Individuals are eligible for food stamps and assistance under the Colorado Works Program if the individual is in compliance with court orders and takes steps toward rehabilitation, e.g., participation in a drug treatment program.

  • Connecticut: Individuals are eligible for food stamps or SAGA if they have completed the sentence, are on probation, or are in the process of completing or have completed court-mandated substance abuse treatment.

  • Hawaii: Individuals are eligible for both benefits if they comply with treatment with treatment.

  • Illinois: All persons convicted of felonies remain eligible for food stamps. However, persons convicted of certain felonies, including trafficking and certain possession offenses, are not eligible for cash assistance. Persons convicted of all other felonies are eligible for cash assistance two years from the date of conviction, unless they are in a drug treatment program, aftercare program or similar program.

  • Iowa: Iowa has removed the federal ban as to food stamps; people with drug convictions are eligible without restriction. However, people with drug convictions are only eligible for Family Investment Program so long as they participate in drug treatment.

  • Kentucky: Individuals are eligible for food stamps and K-TAP upon certification of completion of drug treatment program.

  • Maryland: Before individuals convicted of drug-related felony offenses are eligible for public assistance, they must submit to drug testing and treatment for two years from release from incarceration or completion of probation or parole, whichever is later. A positive test result or failure to comply with required testing or treatment could result in sanctions. If convicted after July 1, 2000, an individual will be ineligible for cash assistance and food stamps until one year after the date of conviction.

  • New Jersey: New Jersey eliminated the ban as to food stamps.

  • Nevada: Individuals with felony drug convictions may be eligible for benefits so long as they participate in or have successfully completed treatment.

  • North Carolina: Individuals convicted of drug-related felony offenses may be eligible for both benefits six months after release (or six months after date of conviction if not incarcerated) if the individuals do not have any subsequent felony offenses and are enrolled in or have successfully completed required substance abuse treatment.

  • South Carolina: Individuals with drug-related convictions may be eligible for cash assistance and food stamps if they submit to random drug tests and/or participate in an alcohol or drug treatment program.

  • Tennessee: Individuals convicted of drug-felony offenses are eligible for food stamps and public assistance if they participate in or complete substance abuse treatment.

  • Washington: Individuals convicted of drug-felony offenses are eligible for food stamps and public assistance if they have been assessed as chemically dependent and are participating in or have completed an approved program consisting of chemical dependence and vocational training and if they have not been convicted of a felony involving drug use or possession in the three years prior to the most current conviction.

(2) States Which Limit Eligibility to Individuals Convicted of Drug Possession and Not Drug Sales

States which exclude from food stamp and or public assistance eligibility individuals convicted of drug sale or trafficking include Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, and Rhode Island. Arkansas, Florida and Rhode Island statutes make such individuals ineligible for both cash assistance and food stamps.

Arkansas: Individuals found guilty, or who have pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to, felony-drug offenses with an element of distribution or manufacture, are ineligible for benefits.

Florida: Individuals convicted of drug trafficking are denied benefits.

Illinois: The Illinois statute limits ineligibility to cash assistance.

Nebraska: Individuals convicted of drug trafficking are not eligible for Employment First. Some counties may have cash assistance available.

North Dakota: Individuals convicted of drug trafficking are denied cash assistance.

(3) States Which Have Modified the Federal Ban in Other Ways

The remaining states have modified the ban in other ways, by providing benefits to those who submit to drug tests, wait a certain period of time, or meet other conditions.

  • Louisiana: Individuals become eligible to receive benefits 1 year from the date of the conviction (if the individual was not incarcerated) or from the date of release from incarceration.
  • Massachusetts: Individuals who were convicted of drug felonies as eligible for TAFDC, ESP and TANF, so long as they remain in court compliance and do not violate probation or parole. Massachusetts does not have a ban on food stamps.
  • Minnesota: Individuals convicted of a drug felony after July 1997 must agree to random drug testing and will be sanctioned for a positive test result. For individuals receiving or requesting only food stamps, a recipient’s food stamps will be reduced 30% for failing a drug test the first time. If the individual fails a drug test for the second time, he or she will be denied food stamps permanently.
  • Wisconsin: To be eligible for public assistance, individuals must submit to drug testing if convicted of a drug-related felony within five years of application. If the individual fails the drug test, the state will reduce the benefit by up to 15% for at least a year, or for the remainder of the participation period, whichever ends earlier. If the individual submits to another test within a year and the results are negative, the state will discontinue the reduction. With regards to eligibility for food stamps, if the test results are positive, the state will not consider the individual’s needs in determining the household’s eligibility. However, if the individual submits to another test within a year and the results are positive, the state will reconsider the individual’s needs.

 

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