Up to 8 in 10 Welfare Applicants Denied Assistance in Pennsylvania

As we begin to climb out of the Great Recession, rules for getting on cash welfare are getting tighter, and more people are getting denied. As many as 8 in 10 in some cases, according to the Inquirer’s investigation of the Department of Public Welfare books.

The denial jump began with the passage of a state law requiring applicants to seek several job opportunities and document the process known as the “pre-approval work search”—a process that critics say simply makes getting on the welfare list harder:

“It’s about punishing the poor for needing assistance by adding another hurdle for welfare,” said Rochelle Jackson, public policy advocate for Just Harvest, an anti-poverty group in Pittsburgh.

State legislators, however, disagree:

“Our view is that a job is always better than being on welfare,” Anne Bale, a DPW spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail on Friday.

Bale, of course, is correct, but she presents welfare is not a necessity, but rather a choice low-income families are making over work—after all, it’s not as if jobs numbers are moving anywhere healthy—let alone anywhere healthy enough to qualify three prospective job interviews in a welfare process. Besides, work search is already a mandatory component for welfare recipients.

Regardless, though, the state’s denials spiked at 81 percent back in February, raising significantly from a 50 to 60 percent average in years past. It had, at that point, been climbing since the pre-approval work search was instituted in the summer of 2012.

The worst part? The same thing is happening in 17 other states. [Philly.com]