Falling Off the Cliff? Increasing Economic Security for Low Income Adults as the Safety Net Shrinks Joshua D. Hawley, Julie A. Maurer

The public assistance system is supposed to offer a bridge between poverty and self-sufficiency. Families receive benefits such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to soften the impact of loss of income. The programs are intended to be limited in duration and provide a very modest amount of financial support. Some families are fortunate to also receive a housing voucher or a child care subsidy to help offset basic expenses. Eligibility for benefits varies by program and is based on different criteria, most of which are linked to personal income. This study asks: what happens when benefits are cut before individuals reach economic stability? This is frequently called the “benefits cliff.”
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