Georgia offers unemployment compensation to people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. It also offers cash welfare assistance to destitute families with small children. But you probably won’t be able to collect from both programs at once because in most cases the amount you get from unemployment will push the family above the very low income qualification levels of the cash assistance program.
Georgia unemployment benefits range from a minimum of $44 weekly to a maximum of $330 and are paid for up to 26 weeks. The amount you receive will depend on your wages during the 12 months prior to losing your job. Georgia’s unemployment rules are silent on whether cash assistance under temporary assistance to needy families, or TANF, counts as income to be deducted from unemployment benefits.
The TANF cash assistance regulations are clear that unemployment compensation counts as family income in determining eligibility for TANF assistance. Georgia’s welfare rules require that you receive all other government benefits you are eligible for, including unemployment and Social Security, before you can apply for TANF. But if the sum of your unemployment, other government benefits and other income exceeds the monthly income ceiling for your family unit, you can’t collect cash assistance.
Georgia’s cash assistance program only covers families with income below the federal poverty line. For instance, a single parent with two children would be disqualified from cash assistance if the family’s total income including unemployment benefits, other government benefits and work income exceeds $784 monthly or $196 weekly. If this three-member family received nothing but unemployment compensation, it would be disqualified from cash assistance if the adult member’s unemployment benefit exceeded $196 weekly. If the three-member family qualified for cash assistance, the maximum welfare benefit is only $280 monthly for up to 48 months.
The work rules of the welfare and unemployment programs have the same aim of getting you back to work. To get cash assistance, you must spend 30 hours weekly at work, in community service, at school or in job training and keep records of your work or work-related activity. To collect unemployment, Georgia requires that you register for work with the state employment service, engage in an active search for work and keep a record of your job search contacts. If the state employment service refers you to a job, you must apply for it or risk losing unemployment benefits.