LouisianaLawHelp.orgLouisiana

About Welfare Time Limits

Authored By: Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (Hammond Office) LSC Funded

Information

Welfare Time Limits

Authored By: Southeast Louisiana Legal Services  

 

How long can I stay on welfare?

 

The monthly cash payment program called welfare is now called the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families by the federal government, and, in the state of Louisiana, the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program ("FITAP"). In Louisiana, the general rule is that you cannot get more than 24 months of FITAP payments in a 60 month (5 year) period. In Louisiana, you also have a lifetime limit of 60 months (5 years, total). There are exceptions to both limits.

 

What months are counted?

 

All months that you actually get FITAP cash payments are usually, but not always, counted. These months should not count:

 

  • When you were under 18, except months when you had a child before age 18 and were not in the house of a relative who received the FITAP.
  • Months before January of 1997.
  • Months when no adult was on the grant.

 

Only for the 24 month limit, the following months do not count:

 

  • DCFS agreed at the time that you had an incapacity that greatly reduced your ability to work.
  • You got payments in a state other than Louisiana.
  • 6 months in which you reported earned income and got a $900 deduction that allowed you to keep getting FITAP.

 

The agency is collecting and keeping child support for my children.  Do the months still count against the time limits?

 

Yes.

If the child support is nearly the amount of your monthly FITAP, you may want to stop assistance and just receive the child support. That way if something later goes wrong with the child support, you would not have reached the time limits.

 

The agency is counting all my months correctly and I have reached the time limits.  Can I get more time?  Are there any exceptions?

 

Yes. Hardships include times when:

 

·        You are addicted but under treatment, and your doctors recommend that you do not try to work during treatment;

·        You do not have adequate child care or transportation;

·        There is a temporary family problem such as death, eviction, serious illness, or accident;

·        There is domestic violence in your family; or

·        You are registered for work and the agency determines that factors beyond your control prevent you from finding a job.

·        A disabled or incapacitated family member needs your full-time care.

 

Even if there is no other hardship, the agency should not cut off assistance for a member of your household who has a disability or incapacity.

 

I am about to be evicted from my apartment.  Is that the kind of hardship that counts?

 

Yes. Hardships include times when:

·        You are addicted but under treatment, and your doctors recommend that you do not try to work during treatment;

·        You do not have adequate child care or transportation;

·        There is a temporary family problem such as death, eviction, serious illness, or accident;

·        There is domestic violence in your family; or

·        A disabled or incapacitated family member needs your full-time care.

Even if there is no other hardship, the agency should not cut off assistance for a member of your household who has a disability or incapacity.

 

What do I do if the state says I've reached the limit and can't get any more cash assistance?

 

The state can give benefits after the 60 month limit in limited circumstances.  Usually staff must feel you have been working towards diligently supporting yourself and that with more time you will get there.  Staff should have met with you about this two months before your termination.  You can try to convince them that some additional time will make a big difference.

 

Also, mistakes are often made. You have the right to appeal. This is what you can do:

1. Appeal if you do not agree and you want a hearing. You should be given a notice in writing that has a space you can fill out to appeal. Appeal right away. Take the notice to your local office of the Department of Children and Family Services, Office of Family Support. Make sure you take an adult witness with you, or get a copy of your appeal. You should have proof you filed the appeal on time. If there is enough time, you may want to go to your nearest free legal services office, to see if they can help you appeal.

2. Go to the hearing and try to get legal help. The free legal services program in your area should be able to help you, if they have enough staff, and if it seems that the state made a mistake cutting you off. It is better to have a lawyer or other representative to help you than to go to the hearing by yourself. But if you cannot get help, you still should go to the hearing if you disagree with the cut-off of your cash payments. At the hearing, you have the right to look at all the evidence against you, question the state's witnesses, testify yourself, and bring your own witnesses to help you.

 

If I was terminated based on a time limit, can I get assistance again y reapplying?

 

If cut off based on the 24 month limit you can requalify by registering for work through the Louisiana Workforce Commission, at one of its Business and Career Solutions Centers

(B&CSC), online at www.laworks.net, or at “kiosk” (computer or booth) at the local DCFS office.

 

You can also requalify based on the reasons discussed above for getting assistance after reaching the limit.

 

Otherwise, if cut off based on the 24 month limit but you have not reached the 60 month limit, you are eligible again when you have received assistance less than 24 months in the last 60 months (5 years).

 

If the state terminates my assistance because of the time limits, do I lose Medicaid?

 

No, your Medicaid should continue. If it does not, contact the Department of Health and Hospitals or a legal services office.

Last Review and Update: Dec 13, 2013
LiveHelp

Contacting the LiveHelp service...