The major reasons for granting work exemptions in South Carolina are health problems and caring for a sick or disabled family member, while the major factors in granting time limit extensions are lack of jobs and enrollment in post-secondary education. (The logistical barriers of child care and transportation do not show up as factors in either.)
A certain percentage of the respondents who were not granted a work exemption or time limit extension (i.e. who were mandated to work) appear to have barriers that might potentially have qualified them for an exemption or extension. For example, 31% of the non-employed respondents without exemptions cited lack of jobs as the most important reason for not working. Another 16% cited health problems as the main reason for not working. In addition, 28% of the respondents without exemptions reported that they had a chronic health condition, and 20% rated their health as fair or poor. Also, 23% of these respondents without exemptions could be classified as having a mental health problem, and 11% were caring for a sick, disabled, or elderly family member.
Without knowing more about each case, we can’t know whether these respondents’ barriers were of lower intensity than the barriers of respondents who had been granted work exemptions or time limit extensions. However, it certainly appears that some TANF recipients who were not granted work exemptions or time limit extensions may have barriers that need to be more closely assessed.