Understanding The DC Public Assistance Amendment Act of 2015: Exemptions and Extensions Proposed

The DC Public Assistance Amendment Act of 2015 includes several exemptions and extensions that would allow families facing hardships to stay on TANF for longer than 60 months. Here is a breakdown of the bill:

Most importantly, children would be able to stay on TANF even if their parent or caretaker is no longer eligible for TANF because they have reached the 60 month time limit and are not eligible for exemptions or extensions.


Months do not count if an individual:

  • Is a minor who is not head of household and
    • Is not the head of an assistance unit, or married to the head of an assistance unit
  • Is the parent of a minor child and
    • Is needed in the home to care for a household member who is physically or mentally incapacitated
    • Is a single custodial parent or caretaker with a child under 6 months old; provided the period not counted is no more than 12 months
    • Has been determined by the Department to be a victim of domestic violence who is receiving relevant support counseling or services and the Department determines the work requirement or child support cooperation be waived
    • Is a pregnant or parenting teen who
      • Has been certified exempt from home living requirements
      • Is enrolled in a high school or GED program
      • Meets his or her work requirements in compliance with his or her TANF Individual Responsibility Plan and
      • Is less than 19 years old
    • Is a parent or caretaker who is 60 years of age or older
    • Is the head of an assistance unit who is meeting the full requirements of his or her Individual Responsibility Plan and can show that he or she is enrolled at an accredited postsecondary education program or a Department of Employment Services approved job training program in which he or she is working towards the attainment of a degree, certificate, or official credential


An individual is eligible for a hardship extension if the TANF recipient has received TANF benefits for a total of 60 months and if one or more of the criteria apply:

  • The individual qualifies for an exemption (see above)
  • The individual is complying with their Individual Responsibility Plan, meaning the TANF recipient is not currently sanctioned
  • The individual has insufficient employment opportunities because the unemployment rate for residents without a high school diploma in DC is 7 percent or higher
  • The individual has a significant barrier to employment including but not limited to one or more of the following:
    • Low literacy, defined as reading below the 8th grade level
    • Low achievement ability or a learning disability that prevents the individual from obtaining or retaining employment
    • A physical or mental impairment or impairments of such severity that the problem prevents the individual from obtaining or retaining employment even if the individual is not found to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance or Social Security Insurance benefits
    • Any other significant barriers to employment identified by the Mayor
  • The individual and family is at risk of hardship if the time limit is imposed, in one or more of the following ways:
    • The individual is homeless or, without continued TANF benefits, is at imminent risk of becoming homeless
    • The child is at risk of entering the foster care system
    • Any other significant hardships as determined by the Mayor
  • The individual is experiencing any other condition deemed eligible by the Mayor