Last year, over 11,000 low-income Mississippians applied for welfare benefits through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. Only 167 of them (1.42%) were approved. But while this is shocking, it’s nothing new for the state. As Think Progress reports:
The numbers follow a disturbing trend in the state over the past several years. Between 2003 and 2010, according to a report by the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative (MLICCI), roughly half of the applicants to the state’s TANF program were rejected, already a large share of poor people denied assistance. But then in 2011, the rejection rate catapulted to 89 percent. It has gradually increased every year since.
States are generally incentivized to reduce their TANF caseloads, given that any unused money can be redirected to other purposes. But Mississippi stands out for its astonishing rejection rate.
However, no one knows why this is happening, and instead of investigating the problem, further, the state sent Think Progress a statement, claiming ““Upon review of our caseload, there are a significant number of TANF applications being denied; however, there are many reasons the denials are taking place.” These reasons included:
“Failing to meet eligibility criteria, unresolved noncompliance issues, an ongoing mandatory work sanction period, unverified compliance with upfront requirements, failing to provide necessary data, voluntarily quitting or being fired from a job for one’s own behavior, failing to cooperate with child support enforcement, failing to show up for appointments, or voluntarily withdrawing an application.”
Mississippi isn’t supporting their impoverished citizens, and is blaming them for it.