Exemptions from TANF Work Requirements

Most people need to have a job in order to receive TANF cash assistance, but there are some people who do not have to. They are permitted an “exemption” from work requirements.

  • People with physical or mental health problems that prevent them from working do not have to get a job or do the work activities. To show physical or mental health problems, either temporary or permanent, people need to have a doctor fill out an “Employability Assessment Form”.
  • Grandparents or other relatives who do not receive a TANF benefits check for themselves but have related children on cash assistance living with them do not have to follow the work rules.
  • Single parents, during the first year of their child’s life, do not have to comply with work requirements to get cash assistance. However, they can be exempt from the work rules for only 12 months in their lifetime, using this type of exemption. Each month counts against the total 60-month time limit for TANF cash assistance.
  • Single parents who cannot find any adequate childcare for children less than 6 years old do not have to have a job to get a check. The welfare office will work with these parents to find childcare as soon as possible, and then they will work with the parents to find jobs.
  • People under 22 who are in school or working on a GED do not have to have a job or do other work activities.
  • People caring for disabled dependents.

Except for grandparents and relatives who are not on the grant, the people listed above are subject to the five-year time limit on TANF cash assistance.

Good Cause

“Good cause” is what the welfare department (Pennsylvania Department of Human Services) sees as good reasons for not taking a job, for leaving a job, or for not doing a work activity. You may have good cause if any of these things happened:

  • You lacked transportation
  • You were sick or there was an illness in your family
  • You lacked good child care, or care for a disabled adult living with you
  • You had a personal emergency
  • The welfare office didn’t give you enough notice of a program assignment or a job opportunity
  • Working conditions were dangerous
  • Pay was below minimum wage, or below what that job normally pays
  • A job offer would cost you more to accept than the job will pay you
  • The job or training program was beyond your skills. For example: you needed more help to speak or read English
  • Domestic or family violence was interfering with your work or program
  • There was discrimination because of age, race, sex, color, disability, religious beliefs, national origin, political beliefs or sexual orientation
  • By taking a job you would have been taking someone else’s job, or you would have replaced workers on strike
  • It was only a temporary job
  • You were in a drug or alcohol treatment program that is so intense it makes it difficult to work