For many, learning they earned a raise or promotion at work is news that calls for celebration. But for some, it could mean choosing between taking on a new opportunity or jeopardizing their families' financial assistance. I authored legislation to empower Hoosiers to take on these opportunities without worrying about losing certain benefits.
My proposal would increase income eligibility requirements for the Temporary Assistance For Needy Families program to 50% of the federal poverty level by 2025. For a family of four, the total gross income would need to be roughly $13,100 in order to qualify. To be eligible currently, a families' income needs to fall between 13% and 16% of the federal poverty level, which equates to a gross yearly income of $8,547 for a family of four. This change would help create a gradual phase-out in this assistance as an eligible household's income increases to prevent Hoosiers from losing their benefits entirely if they experience a slight pay bump.
A problem many call the cliff effect. This is when any extra money earned through a raise, promotion or higher paying job makes recipients ineligible to receive TANF or other benefits. For example, families who are on the higher end of the income qualifications could lose their benefits if they receive a small raise. For many, this increase in wages could make them ineligible for financial assistance. Even though they are earning more at work, suddenly losing these resources could worsen a family's financial situation. By implementing a gradual phase out, this could incentivize more Hoosiers to take a step forward by furthering their careers and accepting higher-paying positions without taking two steps back financially.
The bill I am working on this year is designed to build on a law I authored last session, which recently took effect. The 2020 law exempts dependents' income earned through paid internships or work-based learning programs from their families' eligibility for benefits. The goal of this law is to empower the next generation of Hoosier workers by removing barriers to opportunities to develop skills for the workforce.
My legislation this year could help our state take another step toward ending generational poverty by empowering more Hoosiers to accept promotions, seek out higher-paying jobs, further their careers and lessen their dependence on government assistance. If you have any questions about this legislation or have any input about how I can better serve our community, please contact my office at H29@iga.in.gov or 317-232-9850.

State Rep. Chuck Goodrich (R-Noblesville) represents House District 29, which includes portions of Hamilton County.