The 60-month limit applies only to clients receiving federal TANF "assistance." Months during which clients receive benefits that fall outside of the definition of assistance, or services that are exclusively state funded, do not count toward the federal time limit. Therefore, the use of separate state funds can serve as a mechanism for effectively "stopping" a client's federal time clock.39 States may provide services for a total of more than 60 months by funding services in some months with federal TANF funds and in others with state dollars. This option may be important as TANF agencies are faced with serving clients with unobserved barriers to employment who may require more than 60 months to make their journey from welfare to work.
Another way to use state funds to offer more than 60 months of services is by supporting clients with state funds once they have reached the federal time limit. States that are willing to use their own funds to provide services can allow families to receive welfare beyond 60 months. For example, Maine, Michigan, and New York have agreed to pay for TANF benefits beyond 60 months using state funds to support families who are unable to transition off of welfare despite participating in required programs or services.
39 Note that the client may still be subject to a shorter, state-imposed time limit which may supercede the federal limit.