While disability is an issue for nearly half of all single mothers on welfare, only a small percentage receive government disability assistance, according to a recent report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). An analysis of data from 1997 found that single mothers on welfare were nearly twice as likely as higher-income mothers to have a disabled child while five times as many welfare mothers themselves have a severe disability. Overall, disability is a factor for 46 percent of all single-mother families receiving welfare, according to IWPR.
This research was done in light of legislation currently being debated in Congress to reauthorize the 1996 welfare reform act – a House version was approved in May while the Senate Finance Committee voted last month to approve a Senate version. The House version aims to significantly increase work requirements for welfare recipients while only slightly increasing funding for childcare. “That’s exactly the wrong way to go,” IWPR President Heidi Hartmann told the Washington Post. “Certainly, it will be critical to increase the supply of childcare for special-needs children. And consideration should be given to exempting more of these families from work requirements altogether.”