The state of Pennsylvania has denied as many as eight of every 10 applications for cash welfare in 2013, a major increase over previous years, an Inquirer review of Department of Public Welfare figures shows. It’s a pattern being repeated in 17 other states.
The increased rate of denials coincides with a change in state law. Before Pennsylvanians apply for welfare, they now must seek at least three jobs and document their efforts. Critics contend that the ultimate goal of the new rule, known as pre-approval work search, is to stymie applicants from getting welfare by making the process harder. “It’s about punishing the poor for needing assistance by adding another hurdle for welfare,” said Rochelle Jackson, public policy advocate for Just Harvest, an anti-poverty group in Pittsburgh. State officials disagree, saying the new rules are meant to encourage people to find work and to avoid getting on welfare in the first place.