However, as with SSI and other programs, the 1996 law denies Medicaid eligibility to most legal immigrants. With the exception of refugees, those who have applied for political asylum and certain other categories, immigrants entering the United States are not eligible for Medicaid for five years, with states having the option to extend this ban for a longer period. Immigrants who received Medicaid as a result of the SSI are not eligible for Medicaid once their SSI benefits are cut. In the 1980s and 1990s, criticism of the common good intensified dramatically. Some states began experimenting with programs that required welfare recipients to find work within a certain period of time, after which social benefits were stopped. Given that job training and child care are important components of these programs, proponents recognized that workfare programs save little money in the short term. However, they argued that workfare would reduce social costs and free people from long-term dependence on government. In an attempt to prevent welfare recipients from challenging the Social Reform Act of 1996, Congress barred legal aid groups receiving federal funding from taking on such cases. In Legal Services Corporation v. Velazquez, 531 U.S. 533, 121 S.Ct. 1043, 149 L.Ed.2d 63 (2001), the Supreme Court struck down this restriction as unconstitutional. The Court concluded that once Congress approved funds to provide legal assistance to individuals, First Amendment rights were affected.
A federally funded lawyer “speaks on behalf of a private client in need in a social assistance application, while the message to the government is conveyed by the lawyer defending the benefit decision.” Therefore, counsel`s advice to the client and the court`s pleading was private speech that could not be restricted by the government. In the 1950s and early 1960s, social reform was limited to attempts by various states to impose residency requirements on welfare applicants and to remove illegitimate children from welfare lists. Many states have also adopted so-called “man in the house” rules, which reduce benefits if a man lived at home. In the late 1960s, these laws were repealed on the grounds that the Fourteenth Amendment`s equality clause required the government to treat all persons in similar situations equally. The 1996 law set a national annual cap of $16.4 billion on federal social spending, replacing AFDC and several other programs, with no plans to increase the limit in the future. Within this financial framework, states have greater autonomy in deciding how social assistance funds are spent. However, the 1996 Act brought about several important changes in national social protection policy. With the development of the social welfare system, the courts have been called upon to settle disputes between welfare recipients and government agencies. The most important case concerning the scope of social rights is Dandridge v. Williams, 397 U.S. 471, 90 pp. Ct.
1153, 25 L. Ed. 2D 491 (1970). In Dandridge, California law set a cap on the amount of welfare benefits a family could receive, preventing large families from receiving the same amount per person as smaller families. Beneficiaries from large families alleged that the law violated the Social Security Act of 1935 and the Fourteenth Amendment Equality Protection Clause. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, 110 Stat. 2105, popularly known as the Welfare Reform Act, is the most important social legislation since Franklin D. Roosevelt`s New Deal administration.
The 1996 Act was the culmination of a 30-year debate about the effectiveness of government welfare programs and the appropriate role of government assistance. The objectives of the Act are to remove individuals from social assistance roles, limit the time required for public assistance, and require that the work of welfare recipients be based on the idea of personal responsibility. For the Conservatives, the bill was a blow to the modern liberal welfare state. For the Liberals, the law raised as many questions as it answered. It was not clear how states would provide welfare recipients with training that would enable them to find employment paid at a living wage. Even more worryingly, what would happen to children if families lost their social benefits for good? With Butler as its precedent, the Supreme Court`s interest in determining whether congressional spending promotes the general welfare has atrophied. In South Dakota v. Dole, 483 U.S.