May 17, 2002

House Passes H.R. 4737 Personal Responsibility, Work, and Family Promotion Act of 2002

On May 16, 2002, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4737, the "Personal Responsibility, Work, and Family Promotion Act of 2002," by a vote of 229 to 197. The legislation reauthorizes the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and makes a number of revisions in existing programs that were included in President Bush's welfare and work plan.

H.R. 4737, introduced on May 15, 2002, incorporated provisions reported by the Committee on Ways and Means Committee in H.R. 4090 (Legislative Bulletin 107-17) and the Committee on Education and the Workforce in H.R. 4092. Following are provisions in H.R. 4737 that would affect SSA-administered programs:

Review of State Agency Blindness and Disability Determinations

Would require SSA to review SSI blindness and disability allowances before effectuating payments. In the third year after enactment, the SSI preeffectuation review requirement would be the same as the current disability insurance requirement, that is, 50 percent of allowances would be reviewed. In fiscal year 2003, the requirement would be 20 percent, with a 40 percent review requirement in fiscal year 2004.

Improving Federal Debt Collection Practices

Would allow the offset of OASDI benefits under the administrative offset process for the purpose of collecting State child support debts.

In addition, H.R. 4737 includes several additional provisions of interest.

Increasing Minimum Work Requirements

Would increase the work requirement by 5 percent per year, so that States are required to have 70 percent (instead of 50 percent) of TANF families working and participating in other job-preparation activities 40 hours per week in FY 2007.

Requiring Welfare Recipients to Put in a Full Work Week and Providing Additional Opportunities for Education and Training

Would require TANF recipients to work 40 hours per week - either at a job or in programs designed to help them achieve independence. Includes a four-week cushion for sick leave and holidays, simulating a typical American work schedule and would make special accommodations for parents with infants and individuals who need substance abuse treatment, rehabilitation or special work-related training.

Protecting Children & Strengthening Families

Would continue historically high levels of support for child care (currently $4.8 billion per year) through the Child Care and Development Block Grant, while adding $2 billion in additional funds for child care in the coming 5 years.

Improving Child Care Quality

Would encourage States to address the cognitive needs of young children so that they are developmentally prepared to enter school and to utilize resources in their State to collect and disseminate information to parents, consumers, and child care providers. It would also encourage States to work to meet the needs of parents eligible for assistance who have children with special needs, work non-traditional hours, or require infant and toddler care.

Strengthening Child Support Enforcement and Encouraging States to Give Child Support Payments to Mothers And Children.

Would provide financial incentives for the States to give more money collected from child support to mothers and children, especially mothers who have left the TANF rolls.

Encouraging Healthy Marriages and Two-Parent Married Families

Would provide up to $300 million annually for programs that encourage healthy, stable marriages. These programs include pre-marital education and counseling, as well as research and technical assistance into promising approaches that work.

Encouraging Innovation by States

Would enable States to conduct "State Flex" demonstration projects to improve program effectiveness or coordinate a range of programs in order to improve service delivery. Eligible programs include TANF, Food Stamps, public housing, Workforce Investment Act, and child care, among others. (Supplemental Security Income is not on the list of eligible programs.)

State Food Assistance Block Grant Demonstration Project

Would allow States to elect to participate in a demonstration project under which the State would receive a block grant to operate food assistance programs in the State. The programs would be in lieu of existing programs such as food stamps.

Report on Enforcement of Certain Affidavits of Support and Sponsor Deeming

Would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to issue a report on the enforcement of immigration affidavits of support and sponsor-to- immigrant deeming provisions enacted in the "Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996."