Research on Employment Supports for People with Disabilities: Summary of the Focus Group Findings. Transitional Income Support Programs


Transitional income assistance programs are designed to provide temporary assistance to unemployed or otherwise disadvantaged individuals and families. Typically, these programs have restrictions on the receipt of such benefits, in terms of eligibility criteria and the amount of time an individual can receive payments.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).9 The California Department of Social Services oversees Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. TANF provides cash assistance and supportive services such as food stamps and child care to working individuals. The program is available statewide to families that qualify as needy. California operates two waiver programs under TANF: The AFDC and Food Stamp Compatibility Demonstration Project and the California Work Pays Demonstration Project:

  • AFDC and Food Stamp Compatibility Demonstration Project. The California Department of Social Services runs this program, as well. The program allows AFDC (now TANF) households to be categorically eligible for the Food Stamps program. Recipients are allowed to deduct 40 percent of self-employment income in reporting monthly income. This project also disregards $100 per quarter in non-recurring gifts and infrequent income. If undergraduate student assistance and work study income payments are based on need, then they are disregarded as well. Food Stamps benefits terminated for failure to file a monthly report are reinstated if a good cause is found for the failure to report. It also simplifies the process of vehicle valuation.10

  • California Work Pays Demonstration Project. This project increases the resource limit to $2,000 and increases the automobile exemption to $4,500. It allows savings of up to $5,000 in restricted accounts. The Work Pays project also creates an Alternative Assistance program that allows AFDC applicants and recipients with earned income to choose Medicaid and child care assistance in place of a cash grant. It provides transitional child care and Medicaid to families who become ineligible for AFDC due to increased assets or income resulting from marriage or the reuniting of spouses. No increase in AFDC benefits is granted to families for additional children conceived while receiving AFDC.

General Assistance. The California General Assistance program is the state's program of last resort, serving primarily unemployed single adults without children, as well as individuals who are engaged in the SSI application process (i.e., primarily the elderly and people with disabilities). California state law establishes minimum benefits levels, but actual grant levels and eligibility rules are established by each of California's 58 counties. In 1996, the average GA grant per recipient in California was $225.11

Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP). The California Department of Social Services administers this program. It provides emergency food supplies to low-income and no-income households as well as soup kitchens and other congregate feeding sites. EFAP is available to low-income or no-income individuals as well as non-profit organizations whose main purpose is to provide meals to homeless people.12

California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKS). California Department of Social Services runs this program. It gives cash aid and services to families with eligible needy children who are deprived due to absence of, death of, or disability of parent or legal guardian in home. Its focus is statewide, and is available to TANF recipients. Needy caretakers of children receiving either Foster Care or SSI/SSP may also be eligible. The maximum aid payment for a family of three is $565 per month in counties with high living costs and $538 per month in lower cost-of-living counties. Persons receiving this cash aid are automatically eligible for food stamps, Medi-Cal, and child care and transportation subsidies as needed. Adult applicants are limited to receiving aid for a cumulative period of no more than 18 months. There are a minimum number of hours that recipients are expected to work. The budget for CalWORKS during Fiscal Year 1997-1998 was $602.4 million.13

Welfare-To-Work. The California Department of Social Services administers Welfare-to-Work. This program is designed to assist individuals receiving assistance through CalWORKS to transition into unsubsidized employment and self-sufficiency. Under the CalWORKS program adult recipients are required to meet work requirements by participating in welfare-to-work activities. Services offered by Welfare-to-Work include:

  • Job search services: Supervised and unsupervised job searches, job placement, job development, job club, and employment counseling.

  • Subsidized employment: On-the-job training, transitional employment, or supported work. Welfare-to-Work participants are placed into jobs where they receive training, supervision and counseling to learn job duties. All or part of the recipients CalWORKS' cash is used to help pay for the participant's wages.

  • Vocational training: Includes specialized training services designed to prepare recipients for a variety of careers, including clerical, teaching, child care, computer support, and truck driving.

  • Self-initiated placement: If a CalWORKS recipient/applicant is already enrolled in an undergraduate degree or certificate training program that leads to employment before being required to participate in Welfare-to-Work, she may be allowed to remain in that program as her self-initiated placement.

  • Adult basic education: Reading, writing, arithmetic, and high school proficiency or General Education Development (GED) certificate instruction; or English-as-a-Second-Language instruction.

  • Work experience: Participants may be assigned to get work experience in public agencies as well as private sector jobs. This is a non-paid welfare-to-work activity providing basic job skills, enhancing existing job skills, or providing needed community service that may lead to unsubsidized employment.14

Unemployment Insurance. The California Employment Development Office holds authority over this program. Unemployment Insurance is an insurance benefit program paid to workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own, and who are actively seeking work. Weekly benefit amounts range from a minimum of $40 to a maximum of $230 depending on the claimant's quarterly earnings. To qualify for the maximum amount each week an individual must earn at least $7,633 in a calendar quarter during the base period.15