Exceptions to the Rule
The Implementation of 24-Month Time-Limit Extensions in W-2
One of a series of MDRC studies to examine the groundbreaking Wisconsin Works (W-2) welfare-to-work program, this paper focuses on one of the most intriguing - and controversial - features of the post-1996 welfare reform environment: What happens when welfare clients reach statutory time limits on program eligibility? Concentrating on welfare caseloads administered in Milwaukee County, the report found that only a small minority of program participants reached the 24-month limit set by law for aspects of W-2, and that for those who do file extension requests most are approved. But behind this finding are others: Agencies must routinely review the handling of cases well before the 24-month limit and procedures for resolving time-limit extension filings are time-consuming because they require intensive assessment of client participation in program activities and extensive documentation of medical conditions on which most time-limit extensions are requested.