Julia’s mother: Why a single mom is better off with a $29,000 job and welfare than taking a $69,000 job


The U.S. welfare system sure creates some crazy disincentives to working your way up the ladder. Benefits stacked upon benefits can mean it is financially better, at least in the short term, to stay at a lower-paying jobs rather than taking a higher paying job and losing those benefits. This is called the “welfare cliff.”

Let’s take the example of a single mom with two kids, 1 and 4. She has a $29,000 a year job, putting the kids in daycare during the day while she works.

As the above chart  – via Gary Alexander, Pennsylvania’s secretary of Public Welfare — shows, the single mom is better off earning gross income of $29,000 with $57,327 in net income and benefits than to earn gross income of $69,000 with net income & benefits of $57,045.

It would sure be tempting for that mom to keep the status quo rather than take the new job, even though the new position might lead to further career advancement and a higher standard of living. I guess this is something the Obama White House forgot to mention in its “Life of Julia” cartoons extolling government assistance.

216 thoughts on “Julia’s mother: Why a single mom is better off with a $29,000 job and welfare than taking a $69,000 job

  1. Clearly the best option for women is to not work at all at any legal job. Maximize welfare benefits and ‘work’ as a hooker to make unreported income.

    • Really? A hooker? How about cleaning houses, or assisting with homecare for an elderly neighbor, or babysitting other children when she is not at work? A hooker? If a mother takes advantage of the welfare cliff for the benefit of her children (a safer neighborhood, better healthier food, a camping vacation) can you blame her? What mother would really elect a poorer life for her children so that she didn’t add her one little drop of debt into the already catostrophic debt of the government. So she didn’t “earn” that welfare. Well she didn’t “earn” her dollar being inflated away, or the crap economy from somone else making $ off a subprime mortgage bubble, or education subsidized into an unaffordable balloon, or the fact that she will never see any social security…etc. etc. etc. A single mother trying to provide a safe and stable childhood is the last person I would ask to exhaust herself by standing alone counter to a cultural tide on principle that the government shouldn’t redistribute wealth. Well it does. It’s made a mess of the economy and she reaps the fallout of that along with the burden of carrying her children. She might as well take what she can get.

  2. Anyone can make up numbers.

    I have been working in the social services sector of government for years. Most benefits are limited by time, the article makes no mention of this. Some of the mentioned benefits here are too vague to even be taken seriously or checked out. It’s a shame simple people take this garbage seriously.

    Then again people only want to believe what they agree with, not reality.

    • Actually, they can get even more than the studies show because of all the churches, assistance ministries, etc. that give to them (they’re labeled as “poor”) and all the other freebies like phones, paying them to go to school plus tuition, child-care and so much more. What gives healthy, young people the right to be irresponsible and live off their working neighbors…Obamacare.

    • I live in IN and I make too much money to get any kind of assistance so I don’t know where they’re coming up with any of these statistics….and I make $31,500 a year single mom with two kids…and if I were lucky enough to find a job that paid $57,000 a year I’d take it in a heartbeat. Any qualified and rational person doesn’t strive to be on welfare forever good Lord.

      • Megan,

        You missed the point entirely. Since you make just over the “cliff” salary, you’re not eligible for a host of goodies and hand-outs, so YOU personally are better off making another $25k a year. However, if you were on the other side of the cliff, making your salary is a losing proposition – your standard of living is lower than those who make less than you do.

        • Roxeanne, a woman I know, who is also a single (divorced, she didn’t have the children to get more assistance like some people seem to think most single mothers do) mother of 2 (well 3, but the 3rd is grown and married) earns about 22k a year (she has 2 BS degrees, with like $40k in loans hanging over her if she ever does make any money (free education my ass), but so far hasn’t managed to find a good job, and she’s tried, I’ve helped her look). She receives no food assistance, no medical for herself, she does receive housing assistance. Housing is severely overrated, the vast majority of property owners do not want to jump through the hoops necessary to deal with HUD. At her current location and income, the housing benefit amounts to less than $400 a month. She was receiving child support in the amount of $200 a month, except that only came 3-6 months out of a year before he would change jobs or find something under the table. Which brings her total income with benefits to roughly 28600, now if we toss in the ‘value’ of what her children receive from their health coverage, which amounts to say 1-3 office visits a year most years (including annual checkups, the kids are reasonably healthy, the last time her son went in it had actually been a year since his previous visit) we can round it off to roughly 29000, far from the 57k alluded to here. What this article has correct is that we need to taper off assistance in such a way that it is ALWAYS beneficial to make more money on your own.

          While I’m here, (and completely unrelated to the reply above, but referring to the same woman) let’s talk about another huge flaw in the way government assistance is calculated. When my friend was going back to school after her divorce, her assistance was reduced based on the amount she received from student loans. I don’t know if any of you know anything about accounting, and considering some of the stupidity on these forums I doubt it. But anyone who has paid an ounce of attention in an entry level accounting class knows that LOANS ARE NOT INCOME, they are NOT an asset, they are a liability, plain and simple. I love that the US government makes up it’s own arbitrary accounting system for poor people. I guess they are just never supposed to pay back their loans, good credit isn’t at all important for getting out of poverty anyway, right?

    • I Work for the PA’s Department of Public Welfare. As long as the family remains financially eligible they can continue receive public assistance. TANF used to be limited to 60 months in a lifetime, but funny things happend just about 59 months into that program and the politicians decided that they would rather pay out taxpayer’s money than take a stand.

      • What kind of stand are they going to make? Force down food prices? Rental prices? Does their stand include letting people starve to death. The funny thing that happened is they realized that it isn’t right to let women and children starve. How much taxes do most people pay? How many gets a big income tax handout and that is just hunky dory fine? More systems than TANF and such, are in disarray, but most feels better about themselves ranting about feeding the hungry. Go figure.

        • Let them starve?!?! Are you serious? It’s been proven that the average “poor” person in this country weighs 10 pounds more than the average middle class worker and that they are actually supernourished, not malnourished. They get free food ($400 a month on average for their children out of wedlock), and its also been proven that they have at least one flat-screen TV, a refrigerator, at least one AC, Xbox and Playstation for their children, and they do NOT live in crowded, run down houses in need of repair. Oh and when the kids get old enough they get free college. I don’t know about you but I’m sick of paying for everyone else. In my neighborhood the “poor and disenfranchised” drive BMW’s and Escalades. Give me a break

          • James, thank you for speaking the truth. I work for minimum wage as a pizza delivery guy and regularly serve “poor” people who have a higher standard of living than my own. SUVs, flatscreens, nice clothes, tattoos, etc.

            Oddly enough back in college I was harshly criticized for allegedly living a life of privilege.

          • It actually hasn’t been proven that the average poor family has a flat-screen tv. The heritage institute lists a “tv” being in 97.7% of all households considered to be under the poverty line. (Only 17.9% of those households have a big screen tv.)

            Many of these “superfluous” amenities are actually something I think most people would believe everyone should have regardless of their income: a refrigerator, oven and stove (are you really going to say the ability to store and cook food is a luxury?), ceiling fans, even AC in some areas (would you want to live in Florida with no AC? People die of heat-stroke every year), TV, internet access, and cell phone (yes, the modern age necessitates these for information and engagement in the wider world… like looking and applying for employment). Additionally, many of these amenities (like fridges, stoves, microwaves) are probably included in the rental of these families’ apartments/houses and not something for which they have paid.

            And anyway, most of the items on the list the heritage institute provides are pretty cheap compared to expensive vacations and dinners at fancy restaurants (which are indeed luxuries). Comparing the two graphs – average American household (AAH) and average American household below the poverty line (AAHBP) – you will see that the AAHBP are statistically less likely to have the ALL of the amenities listed than the AAH. Sometimes significantly so: internet service in AAH is at 60.2% and in AAHBP is at 29.3%, or diswashers in AAH at 58.3% vs. in the AAHBP at 25%. Note, nowhere on the graph is there statistical evidence that the poor and disenfranchised in any neighborhood drive BMWs or Escalades. Maybe you are thinking of rap stars?

            Many children who grow up below the poverty line don’t go to college at all, let alone get free tuition.

            As far as video game systems, the list shows that less than a third of people living under the poverty line have one.

            That DOESN’T mean the welfare system is efficient, effective or fair. Or that we shouldn’t reform it.

            But before you start citing “statistical evidence” in a rant, maybe actually READ the evidence (then think about it critically).

          • I don’t know what planet you and your institute live on, but it definitely isn’t mine.
            Since I returned from charity work overseas, and retired on Social Security at $900 / month, the only thing I qualified for was food stamps.
            To get that, I had to exert enormous pressure. Of course, it helped. But the plethora of benefits shown in the graphic simply didn’t exist, and to
            my knowledge doesn’t exist.

            But there is something sinister here.. . . Something not mentioned.. . . What this site extols, and many reading here extol, is the
            abandonment of their aged parents by those of middle age.

            In my case, for example:
            When I returned from the war in 70, and began teaching middle school on $14,400/yr. Social security assured me that I would receive $500/month in benefits
            at retirement at age 65. At that time, I rented an apt for $75/month, bought a new Buick for $3,000, paid $0.30/gal for gas.
            Today gas costs $4/gal, apts rent for $750/month, cars cost $30,000, but Social Security pays only $900/month, not $5,000/month. Beginning
            teachers do not make $144,000 /yr either.
            What has happened is inflationary policies of the Fed/Treasury have shifted monies away from working people’s salaries and pensions, into
            the pockets of the 1%.
            What has happened is people of middle age, who were not subject to conscription and service in the numerous wars since my Vietnam tour, have permitted
            themselves to be bamboozled by greedy CEO bastards, and greedy bankers.
            What has happened is the victims of this greed are marginalized and targeted, not the perpetrators.
            Take the single mom example, for instance:
            Not asked, not considered, is why we have single moms in the first place. If we, like France, gave custody of children to the father, given he has a job,
            and the woman, her clothes, and her freedom, we’d have NO SINGLE MOMS AT ALL!
            If we, like France, had a single payer health system, we’d pay half the per capita cost for health care we now pay!
            If we, had a minimum wage that permitted a person to have a decent income, there would be no need for the programs denigrated above!
            If we want to stop the implosion of our economy, the first step to take is to provide our seniors with decent income, the next step is to give custody
            of children in divorce, to their fathers, the next step is to mandate a minimum wage that provides sufficient income to live on.


          • James, thank you for being an idiot. It allows me to point out another huge flaw. The reason the average poor person in this country weighs more than the average middle class worker is quite simply because junk food is far cheaper than healthy food. I’m going to ignore your highly offensive “children out of wedlock” comment, both of the mother’s I’m aware of who are on any assistance at all were married when they had their children though, and most (I can pull vague references out of the air too) of the unwed mother’s are girls who got coerced into sex far too young by guys who didn’t stick around. As for your reference: Yes most of the “poor” in this country have an ok life. Everything else is a load of crap. Are we seriously going to entertain any idea that a refrigerator and oven/stove are optional? Yes, tvs, dvd players and stuff are, but nowhere does your proof say that they have flat-screen tvs, nowhere does it say that they purchased them new or purchased them at all, people upgrade perfectly good electronics all the time and often those perfectly good electronics are passed down to eventually make their way into the hands of people who can’t afford them, and even if they did buy new stuff themselves, my last two dvd players cost $19.98, a few months ago I purchased a flat screen 1080p tv for $199. We are not living in a 3rd world country. The goal is for poor people to eventually become self sufficient. In our society the majority of people could not get to and from work without transportation. I know I couldn’t. If we want people to have any chance to get off of assistance we need to make sure they have the basic material necessities to take care of themselves, their families, and to have any chance of obtaining a job. In today’s job market things like cars, computers and cell phones are NOT optional. (and the few places where cars ARE optional, the rent is substantially higher) Hell you need basic computer skills to work at McDonald’s these days and minimum wage, assuming you can even get 40 hours a week, which is not easy most places, is barely enough to take care of yourself never mind any dependents. For that matter, in order to even receive government benefits they are now requiring direct deposit. Which means you need a bank account. More and more banks now require the use of electronic banking in order to get an account without fees, people on assistance generally can’t afford extra bank fees, not to mention computers are so cheap the fees would add up to more than the cost of a computer in short order. So there’s some “empirical evidence” for you that even things like computers and internet can not be considered optional/luxury items. For further proof, feel free to try to get a job anywhere without an email address, put N/A for email, use a typewriter for your resume, and if by some miracle anybody asks, tell them you have never used a computer and let me know how that works out.

          • What about our congress? They hardly work a full week,many,many vacation days..& they can not settle any of our problems by compromise..nothing gets accomplished!…yet they get thousands of dollars per year & to top it off…their children do not have to pay back their government school loans…talk about ripping off our government with ‘some’ food stamps for the poor! GIVE ME A BREAK!!

      • R, that is the problem! The dads/moms seem to disappear and the rest have to take care of their responsibilities. Until there is severe punishment for parents who try to stay under the radar to keep from paying child support, it will continue.

    • Benefits may be limited by time, but it is clear by the political climate in this once-free land that the recipients of these unearned benefits care little or nothing about the future. If and when the bennies run out, they just blame the scapegoat party for taking them away and vote for the party that promises them more.

    • I made $29K in Ohio as a single mom of 3 and was on foodstamps before I got that job. The only way I could’ve kept my foodstamps when working was to tell my employer that I needed his/her signature to continue receiving any benefits. I wasn’t willing to jeopardize my career for a few hundred dollars a month. Money isn’t important. I found ways to make ends meet. Besides, my self-esteem is too important and me and the kids made it w/o foodstamps-I like to think it made us stronger people. :)

      • You are the well deserving, and self-respecting American that these programs are made for, and NOBODY should begrudge you the opportunity to have used the safety net to get you out of a bad time. The problem is when people make a lifetime goal of gaming the system and living on these programs for all time.

        Congratulations to you for making your life better. You are a wonderful role model for your children.

    • Actually, the article address the fact that many benefits are limited by time. “Benefits stacked upon benefits can mean it is financially better, at least in the short term” Even a “simple” person like me can disseminate information correctly. I was also able to Google the benefit programs listed quite easily. My simple mind just Googled CHIP program Pennsylvania, and I found the program and followed the link. It took me to an online calculator that showed how much a woman making $29.000 with 2 kids could receive. It took me about 15 minutes to fact check all the programs and my simple mind decided the article was, indeed, factual. By the way, its not just simple people who believe this article, it’s people like me, with an MBA, and the common sense to read thoroughly and research the things I read.

      • The thing about CHIP benefits, is that while they are great if your child happens to be sick and in need of medical care, the actual benefit amount is almost nothing if your children are healthy. And did you verify that someone making $29k could receive food assistance? Because the woman I know on assistance with 2 children stopped receiving help with food at around $22k, real world fact, and all the googling in the world isn’t going to change that. So feel free to wrap your MBA around that and shove it somewhere. The actual benefits in this report are grossly exaggerated. Maybe they are obtainable by people that know how to “work the system” but if so I can’t figure out how they pull it off. The roughly $15k in childcare is amusing though, perhaps if the person is a single mother has an infant? But for school age kids? And of course by age 12 (if not sooner) whatever real percentage of that 15k they actually get is gone. “newsg83″ below put it quite nicely I just noticed.

    • My fellow speech makers and I were all given the same topic: HOW DO WE CREATE AND KEEP JOBS IN AMERICA. As I received this subject matter, I had to laugh because if the so-called “wise” Americans {the President, the Secretary of State, the Congressmen and women, ect.} can’t figure out how to make our economy better by creating jobs, then how are a bunch of teenagers supposed to accomplish this ambition. The only way to learn how to create jobs is to see what the ordinary people have to say. The people I spoke with had many good ideas, such as: cutting taxes, making sure job creators are motivated, and fixing the welfare system.
      We can’t tax and regulate people to death my daddy says. When the government does, they are running the job creator out of the country and the following states: Nevada, New Jersey, California, Oregon, and Connecticut. Our own beautiful state of California is one of the top state in which there is no job growth. The majority of the job creators go to places where they are not taxed as much. Places like China, Japan, and India are taking our jobs because they have cheap labor and fewer tariffs. Do really want foreign people taking our job??? They will and have because of our Government Regulations.
      We need to ease restrictions on small businesses. If we over-tax these small businesses, they will leave the state and or the country. This is exactly what the job creators are doing. They are going to another country and or state that will have better openings for their business. States like North Dakota, Alaska, Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska have more businesses than the rest of our states because they have eased their restrictions. President Regan knew that when you put a tax on something, people will produce less of it and when you cut taxes, the people will produce more of it.
      To be able to great this type of job augmentation, they must be motivated. I am not talking about government bail-outs, stimulates, or hand-outs. I am talking about private businesses, small businesses. These companies are what America is all about, making your dreams come true. Unfortunately in this economy, dreams are mostly shattered not made anew. Small private businesses are what drive the economy. President Reagan said in his farewell speech, “‘We the People’ tell the government what to do; it doesn’t tell us. ‘We the People’ are the driver; the government is the car. Moreover, we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast. Liberty contracts as government expands.” End quote.
      The government has expanded in to our welfare system. I think that welfare is a great idea but they should have tighter restrictions on how to get in the system. The Government should make the welfare recipient prove that they are trying to find work. It shouldn’t be easy to get on the system. Once welfare recipients get on the system, they should be given small jobs until they get a job. Once they get a job, then welfare beneficiaries should be placed off the system. They should only be on the system for two years at the most. This way the welfare recipients aren’t relying on the government.
      We need to stop relying on the Government and go back to what the pilgrims did. If you didn’t work, you didn’t eat. I think that we the people should do that and enforce it. If you don’t work, then you don’t eat; plain and simple.
      My father is an example of what people should do if they are desperate for work or for money to feed their family. He had a wife and a baby to feed in the dead of winter and he was DESPERATE to feed his family. So, what did he do???? He went out and found a job for $1.00 to $1.15 an hour. Doing what, you might ask??? By working in a nursery, pulling up trees in the freezing cold, by hand, from the frozen ground, that’s what. He wasn’t too proud to do some dirty work. That is what they should do, if they want to be on welfare.
      Then again, if people want to be on welfare it is because they get a lot more money on the system than on working. They don’t have a desire to work if they can have let’s say 10,000 dollars more than minimum wage. I mean who wouldn’t do that. I would. This is why the welfare system NEEDS to be changed. When the government changes this, there will be a huge {and I mean huge} impact on the on the job growth.
      The government needs to be kept at bay. They don’t need to be controlling our daily lives. In fact, it would be better for them to get completely out of our lives. Yes, I understand they need to tax us, to be able to fund our military and stuff. Nevertheless, they need to cut taxes, make sure job creators are motivated, and fix the welfare system. All of this and we should create and keep better jobs in America.

  3. An interesting graph and child care makes up a huge part of the benefits. I’m interested to know what happens to the theoretical woman on $29k when the children grow up and she stops receiving benefits? Does she suddenly lose most, if not all, of her benefits? I’d like to think that most people have the sense to take some courses, get trained, get accredited while they have assistance and work their way up so that when their children do leave the nest, they’re able to continue earning a good wage for themselves.

    • @ Jake … Yeah. Welfare Queens always get an education while on the government payroll!!! That’s exactly how it works. Even if you don’t 100 percent of the points in the article, the point is right on: The system is designed to create people who are dependent on the state and continue to vote into office people who steal from makers and give to takers. Keep drinking the Lib-Tard cool aide.

      • I think the system has been designed with good intentions, in order to help people and their children living on low incomes have a chance at escaping the cycle of poverty. However because of poor implementation of ideas it has potentially trapped people into dependence on government welfare, particularly if they need it for childcare. Rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater, wouldn’t it be better to reform the system so that it can help those that do need it while also creating incentives for people to become productive members of society?

        • You are the sanest person whose comment i have had the pleasure of reading. Thank you. i wish more people understood that scapegoating will not fix the problem. We have a rotten system that only helps people when they hit bottom instead of starting assistance when they are on the way down or trying to better themselves. People in poverty are not all cheaters and to think so is cruel and ignorant. It is intellectually lazy to polarize this issue and not see its complexity and realize we all lose when we don’t work together to find intelligent strategies that work with human nature, not against it.

          • So the sane rational moderate democrats agree the system is broken. Cool. What legislation has been introduced to reform welfare in the last four years? Is the White House a proponent of reform of entitlements? What does their voting record indicate then it comes to touching welfare or other entitlements? What’s worse than knowing you’re wasting ALL taxpayer dollars but yet do nothing about it except make rich people pay more?

        • Thank you! The system is broken, for sure. But the answer is not to yank the rug out from under everyone. The answer is reform and incentives, just as you said.

  4. I am an RN. I am thankful that I have always WORKED and made good money. Over the years, I have worked home health and I have witnessed families on Medicaid with larger T.V.’s than I owned and cable to boot. (A luxury I couldn’t afford). Welfare recipients that had their nails and hair done, talking on cell phones while their 15 year old daughter was in labor delivering a child. Bottom line, I have seen more 15 year old girls deliver babies, utilizing emergency medicaid, and the 30 year old grandmother talking on cell phones than you can imagine.
    The above situation is entirely different from a family who needs temporary assistance. Unfortunately, the welfare system is broken and what was intended to be used for temporary assistance has become an expectation and an entitlement for generation after generation.
    Bill…that is as real world as it gets. Here is more real world for you– 12 years ago I borrowed against my 401k and started my own home health company. I risked everything. I now employ about 25 people and I fall into the salary category of the elitist @sshole that you claim should spend some time in the real world. I have worked REAL HARD in this world. The money didn’t fall from the sky, I worked for it. 50% of it is about to be taken from me to help support another generation of people that do not work or pay taxes. Cynical? Selfish? Disgusted FOR SURE!!

    • Kim, Thanks for your real world message and God Bless you. You did build it! When are people going to understand that the world of Obama’s Julia is a sad unfulling fate? I worked hard too until I was 72 and my life and that of my family was a good life because we earned it. People have got to stand up and fight for what we/they believe in. Grow a backbone, get of your butts, make a better world.

  5. I grew up in Chicago,amidst “humble begin-ins”. During college on the GI Bill I worked driving a coal truck in winter time delivering to the SE side. Every where I went people were on welfare, mostly by choice. Chicago is run by the Democrats, always promising to do great things for the poor, for their vote, but sadly never delivering. Generation after generation in Chicago has been on welfare, they just accept it and do not make the effort or go out and take the more difficult path of securing a better life and future for themselves. Where are the liberal Democrats? Obama’s Community Organization program is a dismal failure, go and see for yourselves (if you have the courage to go into those organized neighborhoods).
    I have seen women at the check out in grocery stores with full baskets of food stuff and paying with food stamps while dressed to the nines, fine looking jewelry and an air of superiority over them and driving away in an upscale vehicle.
    Our continuation of allowing the entitlement attitudes to perpetuate is so disheartening and now we are expected to spread our wealth to those who feel entitled to it, encouraged by the liberal agenda led by our Commander in Chief.
    Pity all of us.

  6. This assumes that they are only collecting under one name, how many have multiple names for multiple benefits, and if you say that you check IDs than the state issued photo ID to vote hurts the poor is bullshit!

  7. Here is the truth about welfare from one who works in a PA welfare office. While welfare is designed to provide assistance to those who are at the lower end of the economic spectrum. The program was designed to supplement people’s efforts in supporting themselves not being their sole support. Reality is that there are some that by no fault of their own will never be able to fully support themselves, but the number of people who could have supported themselves but due to poor decision making (and suffering the negative consequences of those decisions) only continues to grow. The truth is that welfare, though an assist for some is a trap for too many. There are some who escape the trap, and more power to them, but for most it is a trap. It is far too easy to become complacent and begin to rely on the system. There is little to no incentive to leave the system. I have seen too many people come through our doors ashamed to be asking for help, and years later are fighting to remain on the welfare roles and seeking more. Without serious reform the future will only consist of more and more people receiving benefit and fewer and fewer paying more and more taxes to support them.

  8. I think there are some factual mistakes here although the broader point is well taken that there are moments due to benefit eligibility cutoffs where there is disincentive to gain the marginal dollar in income.

    Just a few moments of googling found these mistakes:
    1. The chart shows childcare benefits up to $45,000 or so. The Pennsylvania article for childcare credit shows a number well below the $45,000 shown on this graph ( when the actual number is cutoff at $38,000 and worker is expected to co-pay.
    2. CHIP is likewise cut off around the $38,000 mark ( not the $45,000 or so shown here.
    The calculation of cutoff for Medical Assistance (MA) at 133% of poverty level ($19,000 for family of 3) seems correct.

    Besides having the wrong cutoff points, this graph appears to be engineered for a very specific moment in time. If the case described here has two children, 1 and 4, only a year would pass before schooling removes the need for daycare and significantly reduces the value of that benefit. The more interesting point to me is that binary cutoff points do indeed produce disruptive moments.

    So I think the complaint implied here by the AEI is twofold (1) the general concept of benefits proportional to income, and (2) a mathematical problem where the use of eligibility cutoffs rather than gradual reductions causes points of disincentive. Point (1) is a political point I won’t debate here but has many words of discussion elsewhere on this website, but point (2) is quite interesting to me as a mathematical kind of guy. The simple way to solve this is to use equations rather than eligibility limits, but that appears too complicated to most people (and we’d have other Facebook postings complaining about complexity of equations in the tax code).

    Also, the $69,000 job will pay $69,000 or thereabouts when both children are in school and presumably for years and years to come, including higher contributions to social security and greater value in tax deductions and so on. And many employers provide tax-incented childcare deductions that smooth out this line. I don’t think anyone earning, say, $68,000 in this situation would voluntarily reduce their income to the $29,000 range to the point where childcare kicks in for the momentary period of maximum value.

    • Extremely well put, and you’ve only found a few of the flaws in the actual values, some others I’ve pointed out in replies above from the actual experiences of someone I know. I know other people who receive some level of assistance as well, such as my grandparents, so my information is not based on a single case by any means but I’d rather limit the amount of personal information I share.

      As I mentioned in my own words above before finding your post, I strongly agree that the system needs to be designed in such a way that there are no ‘cliffs’ every dollar a person on assistance earns should increase their situation, there should never be a point where someone on assistance has to “consider” what taking a better job/position/salary will cost them. I’m going to add to that a bit: My friend I mentioned above, making 22k a year recently got the opportunity to apply for a job making 36k a year (unfortunately she didn’t get the position because her skill set is a bit rusty having been out of school for a couple years working in the crappy 22k job, but she’s going to try again after she brushes up on some things.) Just applying for that job was a terrifying step, if she had gotten the job, she would have lost her housing benefit. On the one hand, that’s not a big deal, the huge jump in pay would have more than made up for that particular loss, but what would have happened if 3-6 months after they hired her they decided she wasn’t right for the position after all? Last time I checked the waiting list for housing assistance was something like 5 YEARS around here. So if she got off the system and then lost her job, she’d be screwed. The system needs to be redesigned so the support is linear, and automatic, so if someone like my friend gets a chance to advance, and it doesn’t work out, she doesn’t have to worry about ending up homeless for 5 years

      • Where in the heavens is it written that good English counts for nothing when one is writing about heartfelt matters? Where in the heavens is it written that we must NOT pay attention to bad writing when a commentator addresses a substantive matter in a heartfelt manner? The sentence fragment, “there should never be a point where someONE on assistance has to “consider” what taking a better job/position/salary will cost THEM,” disgusts me. This is but one of many linguistic blunders in this comment. The writer is not alone in his casual contempt for good English. However, ugly writing discourages me from paying close attention to the substantive points any writer wants to make.

        • “Where in the heavens is it written that good English counts for nothing when one is writing about heartfelt matters? Where in the heavens is it written that we must NOT pay attention to bad writing when a commentator addresses a substantive matter in a heartfelt manner? The sentence fragment, “there should never be a point where someONE on assistance has to “consider” what taking a better job/position/salary will cost THEM,” disgusts me. This is but one of many linguistic blunders in this comment. The writer is not alone in his casual contempt for good English. However, ugly writing discourages me from paying close attention to the substantive points any writer wants to make.”

          Let’s address this statement, shall we?

          First: nothing is “written” in the heavens. If it were, we wouldn’t have had to write our religious texts ourselves based on stories poorly passed down by word of mouth for thousands of years.

          Second: the English language is an amazing and versatile thing, but it’s also a poorly designed piece of crap. There is no elegant way of writing a single sentence neatly and succinctly to express what I was trying to say without bending a few rules. Your primary concern appears to be that “someone” is singular, while “THEM” is technically plural. examples:(–used-as-a-singular-for-person-of-unknown-gender.aspx) ( I’ll even throw wiki in there: (
          All of that aside, I had already used several /’s for various changes in job and didn’t want to say him/her, or write an even more complicated sentence. Additionally oddly enough, when dealing with matters of the home and single parents, you DO have a single person deciding how things will affect THEM (as in the entire family). I’m sorry if that’s inconvenient for you.

          Third: Feel free to point out any other linguistic blunders, as you obviously lack the ability to contribute to or against the actual content of the conversation. If you are finding fault in MY grammar, you must be new to the internet. (ex: I try 2 rite gud 4u) If the only flaw you can find in my logic is a mater of perceived grammatical error, it seems I have made my point well enough.

  9. It is definitely most beneficial to have children out of wedlock. (Of course doesn’t benefit children as statistically they end up failures in society in terms of crime, poverty and education).

  10. I make 65K – no college degree with 2 boys, no child support. 1 son disabled and the other still in daycare. We live in a single bedroom apartment, and live pretty simple. I’ll keep pressing on until something gives like my job. I have never used the welfare program, but I do depend a great deal on my tax returns. I’m a little nervous, I won’t get much back in my returns this year.

    • Where are you living that 65k a year has you in a single bedroom apartment? NYC? 65k a year around here could get you a house with a yard and a pool easy.

  11. What does t say about our society and the economic direction it is going in when people who do an honest days work aren’t able to support themselves and their families? Not everyone is a cheat, a gamer, a taker. Some people are simply making financial choices that make the most sense. Just like those at the top that make the choice to take advantage of loopholes to keep more of their money. Is there really no better way to assist and incentivize people to better their lot than to call them names and put all the blame on them as if every person living in poverty has the same situation and motivation? Those that have designed this social safety net bear far more of the blame, and both sides of the aisle have a hand in this. We are to distracted by the latest shiny object to actually find value or pride in community it seems.

    • I worked for 55 years and paid for a lot of THEM via taxes. I know a family whose parents worked very hard and are retired. Their 5 kids are not working at all, they have 14 grand kids and all 5 kids and the 14 grand kids are on the public dime for everything.

  12. How about an article on how it pays for the Koch bothers to spend millions on influencing legislators on tax policy, rather than pay their fair share of taxes?


    Why it pays for Mitt to earn $21 million a year in “carried interest” than to earn $40 million in a real job.

    • Kennedy, Kerry $ has been hidden off shore for ever. Kerry the Magnificent even tried to hide his MILLION $ BOAT out of Mass to avoid $50,000 in taxes.
      Kerry / Heinz fortune is overseas, they moved factories and JOBS off shore YEARS ago. Where is you ANGST for YOUR hypocrite Progs.

    • How about the millions and billions the unions extract from “forced members” who may or may not want to support Obama to buy Obama’s presidency? Then Obama spends the next term paying them back! Jerk.

  13. In IL low income people with children get totally FREE day care paid for by the state for all kids. This cost varies from $200-300 and up for EACH child per WEEK or $15,000 per year per child. This is $45,000 for day care, plus all the other free STUFF. Run the #’s, this is $70,000 AT LEAST for 3 kids. I worked and paid taxes for 55 years and never once made over $51k. Bou was I a sucker for working.
    Why work at all?

  14. it is amazing that tea party types think that people makeing 29K would turn down a 69K job or even be eligible. I know engineers with multiple patents that have a hard time making 69K on a job due to offshoring of IT and manufacturing. The right wingers create straw men anywhere. My wife has an MBA and at age 55 with kids in college we would love a 29K job. I am fortunate to work full time at a “good”job and have part time college adjunct jobs. Dont be so smug

  15. Hey guess what i was married for almost seven years w two kids and gave up any type of high paying job so my husband could…he split and now i work to make ends meet..when he wasnt paying child support i had to go on food stamps…but if u all want to complain about single moms maybe u shoukd think about the deadbeat dads my ex has been on a number of vacations some nfls games ect… most single moms dont have luxury of working jobs that pay more due to the fact that alot of daycares are not open in evening be iggnorrant all day long but it is the dads that skate out of their responsibility that u should be getting mad at

  16. I am an employer, and one woman that has worked for me for 7 years came to me crying in October. She is a single mom of 2, and her case worker told her to quit her job or she would lose much of her benefits. She recommended that she find a job that pays off the books. this poor woman is a great worker and loves her job, but as soon as she cracked the $29K mark she was screwed. Bottom line, she quit. This is retarded.

    • That’s ridiculous. First, if you quit your job, you’re ineligible for benefits. Second, no case worker would flat-out tell their client to quit and find a job that pays under the table. And finally, even if the case worker did say to quit and find a cash job (and I don’t believe they did), it’s hard to believe that ANY person would be stupid enough to actually do it!

      Although… here we are reading this baloney!

  17. The illegals have children in the usa (citizens) and are married which is recognized by the church but not the county gov. The husband lives at home and makes cash under and off the grid. Momma collects benefits for the children, free house, food, elec, gas, cell phone, etc plus the EIC on the 1040 for each kid around $4k each. They don’t care.

    The blacks just get around the 29k earning rule by doing the baby-momma thing. Never officially marry and the sperm doner does this with multiple women to ensure his benefits keep coming by each baby momma sort of like a pimp. The don’t care either.

    The whites are all conscientious and ashamed to take help so we get blood sucked by the leaches. It’s all designed to ruin us. Plus most white women have been programmed to feel white guilt. The country won’t last much longer…it can’t.

    In comes the new Stalin to fill the void.

    My two cents.

  18. The 2 most frustrating things I’ve seen when it comes to food assistance lately was a guy ahead of me in line buying a bag of lays and a coke with his bridge card, and a sign outside of a subway saying now accepting bridge cards. Its garbage that my tax dollars go toward pop and fast food for poor people. I have to work for what I want, and apparently I have to work for what they want too. I’ve met people on foods stamps that eat better than I do ie steaks and crab legs. I think they should get bread, vegetables, milk, cheese and fruit, and if you want more, WORK FOR IT.

    • a bag of lays and a coke? that sounds like a moderate intake of junk food – about the same amount that any American on any given day eat. i’m sure you didn’t see him buying healthy options due to that fact that you don’t follow him around all day. is subway not a healthy option? you complain about people buying chips and soda and yet complain about people making a healthy option with their food stamps. wheres the logic? you also said they should by the basics…such as meat. is steak and crab legs not a type of meat? by the way, you can enjoy a steak for around $3-$5 depending on the size. it’s called walmart. you’re argument is very juvenile.

      • But the difference is that they arent an average american, someone else is paying for that bag of chips and soda. 1.00 bag of chips and 1.50 for a 20oz coke…I could make pb and js for a week with that much money. See what I mean?

  19. wow. people are so out of touch. it’s really sad. at the end of the day, Americans are entitled to welfare assistance. it’s our constitutional right. if you fall on hard times, by all means apply for government assistance – that’s why people, including myself, pay taxes. I DO NOT agree with generation upon generation upon generation soaking up all the benefits and making it harder for those who ARE ACTUALLY putting forth an effort to support themselves & their families only to get turned away because Susan from Trailer B, Keisha from Project C, and Maria from good ole Mexico don’t want to do anything except lay up, have a million kids, and collect benefits – this needs to stop. i think to prevent lazy people from receiving benefits some type of job search program needs to be implemented to prove that they’re trying to better themselves and not be a gov’t benefit leech forever.

  20. Let me just say that the article referenced was not “statical evidence.” You need to go back to school. Besides, stats can be swayed either way. You have to go to the research document to see what is really going on. I did not take the time to research the references, so I dont know if this is backed by statistically significant research or not. The point is that most people in “poverty” need help. Do you want a family living in a crime neighborhood simply because they are poor? What are they calling decent housing? I mean really? Do you have to be homeless to be poor? Using refrigerators and air conditioning as statements for someone not being poor is sadly inhuman. As far as tv, internet and gaming systems. Internet is not that expensive. Poor people get many things second hand. How many of the TVs were new??? Have you heard of craigslist?? Same with the gaming systems. You can find the last model all day long on craigslist for almost nothing. You also need a car to get around. Public transportation is not available everywhere. Not to mention the article does not mention if these cars are new, used, from 1970 or what. The poor are overweight because they cannot afford to buy healthy food. Dont just throw an article up and say “here is proof.”

  21. The system is definitely flawed. I have worked since the age of 15. Not a product of the welfare system. I had worked for 1 company for 18 years, and worked my way up through the corporation, making a decent wage. During the crash of the economy, this was a great way for employers to get rid of high paid employees, with retirement packages and larger amounts of vacation. With my unemployment, I did not qualify for benefits. Once I found another job, I was a divorced mom with 4 children. The system does nothing to collect the child support from the father. But, the system was quick to force me to carry insurance on my children with my $31,000 job. The insurance is almost $300 a month with a $5000 a year deductible. They were given 1 year with state medical as a backup. I did receive help with daycare. I then took on additional work to try and make more money. This brought me to $52,000 per year. I know do not qualify for day care. And I do not get help with medical. So in trying to work harder, I lost help with day care, and medical. The system is not designed to help those that are trying to improve their life or work harder. It is designed for those that do not try and live off the system. I was better off with a lower income. If the system can push this on the mothers or the providing parent, why is there not a harsher system to collect child support????

  22. I feel sorry for any of you that put judgement upon any person based off opinions or statistics. Maybe if people weren’t so ignorant to place judgement on every person in one “catergory” our world might be a better place. As a single mother of two boys, working two jobs (one job to pay for daycare), I still don’t make enough to cover all the assessts I need just to survive. As for middle class couples who aren’t sufficing, I don’t see how that would be possible. Maybe not buying a brand new vehichle that has a 400$ payment, or having to have the 3 bedroom two bath that costs 1200$ a month. Or the need to be spoiled by buying the huge screen TV and cable……Which I may add I do not have either because I can’t afford it.
    We all make our own choices and decisions in life. Some are not completely by our own will but they serve a greater purpose later in life. I am a taxpayer just like you, and I pay for the “welfare” I use just like you. AND NO I DO NOT PLAN TO BE ON WELFARE FOREVER. Some of you make it sound as if us “single mothers” just use the government to get handouts and have more kids to get more money. I love how segregated lower income single mothers are, how prejudice some of you are against our struggle. SHAME ON YOU, who are you to judge me in any way shape or form!
    I hope when you go home tonight you realize how great you have it, and how there are so many out there that would love to have what you have. Go ahead watch your big screen but remember the thousands out there that aren’t fortunate to have one. Go ahead drive your brand new car home to your nice three bedroom house so many of us only dream of, in the hopes of one day. Just remember the expenses and materialistic things you think you need are your choices to have. And just because you can’t afford them doesn’t give you the right to point at anyone else to blame. Why not use that energy to help solve the problem in a positive manner? That would be all to easy though.

  23. I agree with your statement about the system not being designed to work for those who really want to improve their lives. I am a single mom. Father walked out, I got laid off, And we had to move. I can’t get help with child care because I don’t have a job. I can’t get a job because I have zero social support/ sitters and companies seem are not too interested in applicants who need to take a toddler on an interview. I make too much child support on paper ( getting it is completely different) to qualify for programs like tanf, or help with finding a job. I’m not allowed to move to an area we would have more support because the father who sees his son maybe 5 hours a month said no.

    The only benefit I get is insurance for my 2 year old; which I am very grateful for.
    We do have designer clothes and I have an iPhone, that doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. There was a time when I was part of a home with 2 incomes and I didn’t throw out everything to start from 0 so I wouldn’t disrespect people who have an image of what someone on medicaide should look like or have.
    There are people who abuse the system, but it’s not everyone.
    I would jump at the shot for a 60k a year job!

    • The problem is so simple, I can’t believe people can’t make this connection. This country was founded with God as the foundation, now we are trying to take God out of everything. If you pull a foundation from underneath a building, will it not fall?

  24. My girlfriend got certified and now works 35hrs/wk as a massage therapist after living on disability for many years. She has a 3yo daughter who now has to be put in daycare. She was on disability with all the goodies and enjoyed a much happier life spending more time with her daughter. Now that she works and isn’t getting benefits, she can afford LESS luxury than she did on welfare, and has to spend $800-$1,000/month on child care now while shes away at work. I also work two jobs and am never home, but we’re struggling to pay rent. It’s at the point now where she might have to STOP WORKING to PAY RENT. This system is so screwed up. We’d be OKay if there were child care options for children that aren’t old enough for public school. Daycare is costing us as much as a 1 bedroom apartment would cost in addition to our rent!

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