ATM cash limit for TANF recipients puts Kansas crosswise with Fed

In April 2015, Kansas governor Sam Brownback signed a groundbreaking bill imposing a daily ATM cash limit of $25 on recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. Now it seems the TANF cash limit could cost the state $102 million annually in federal block grant funds.

McClatchy DC reported that the Social Security Act calls for TANF recipients to “have adequate access to their cash assistance … with minimal fees or charges.”

The question is whether the federal government will decide that Kansas — the first state to impose a $25 cap — violates both requirements.

According to the report:

‘The $25 limit is uncharted territory,’ said Liz Schott, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington, D.C., think tank.

Schott pointed out that ATMs don’t permit withdrawals in five-dollar increments, so people would only be able to withdraw $20. And they would have to pay any fees charged by the banks on top of a $1 fee assessed by the state for all ATM withdrawals.

‘The question is, given the transaction fees and the limit, when you put those two together, is that a reasonable access to assistance?’ Schott asked.

Brownback told McClatchy that, if the federal government insists, he is willing to up the limit, which started out at $60 per day, but was slashed to less than half of that by a late amendment in the Senate.

Lawmakers are now making haste to craft and vote on a bill reinstating the $60 cash limit before the end of the legislative session.

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