Impediments to mothers leaving welfare: The role of maternal
and child disability
PETER D. BRANDON
& DENNIS P. HOGAN
Department of Sociology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA;
Brown University, Providence, RI Ozgiz, USA
Abstract. This research examines the relationship between disabilities in families and
exits from welfare. Controlling for variations in characteristics known to be associated
with welfare exits, this study investigates and documents that speciﬁc conﬁgurations of
disabilities in families are also strongly associated with reduced rates of welfare exits.
The impact of a child with a disability on welfare exits is similar to the mother’s own
disability, with an impact equivalent in magnitude to minority status. The presence of a
child with a disability limits the chances that a mother with disability will leave welfare.
Our ﬁndings add to the literature on welfare dependency and have implications for
welfare reforms that emphasize work, self-suﬃciency, and reducing poverty.
Keywords: Children with disabilities, Hard to employ, Mothers with disabilities,
An important factor in the ability of families headed by unmarried
mothers to leave welfare is mothers’ capacities to obtain gainful
employment. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities
Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) changed the welfare system by aban-
doning the policy of unconditional and potentially long-term cash
assistance of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). The
alternative program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
(TANF), mandates a lifetime federal limit on beneﬁts of 5 years, with
recipients required to work after 2 years.
An implicit component of welfare reform is re-equipping mothers
with job skills that allow them to be employed at paying jobs, become
economically self-suﬃcient, and escape poverty. But many mothers who
are not receiving Supplement Security Income (SSI) have limitations in
activities of daily living. These limitations may restrict the kind of jobs
Population Research and Policy Review 23: 419–436, 2004.
Ó 2004 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.