Choices Guide – B-900: Postemployment Services & Choices Plus

B-901: Earned Income Deduction

Boards must be aware of the following:

Earned Income Deduction (EID) is a standard work-related income deduction available to some Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients following employment entry. Eligibility for EID is determined by Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).

To promote access to needed postemployment services, all Choices participants who receive EID must participate in Choices, even if not enrolled in Choices at the time of employment. The participation requirement for Choices participants who are working at least 30 hours per week and earning at least $700/month is limited to reporting the hours of employment to Workforce Solutions Office staff.

Choices participants who receive EID are included in the denominator in calculating Choices work participation rates.

A mandatory Choices participant coded by HHSC as receiving EID is required to report actual hours worked. Failure to properly report work hours will result in a sanction.

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions Office staff enters hours of employment into The Workforce Information System of Texas (TWIST) Daily Time Tracking.

When HHSC certifies or recertifies TANF assistance, HHSC informs each individual of his or her responsibility to report changes in household income, including change in income status, within 10 days of occurrence.

A standard outreach letter can be customized in TWIST to:

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B-902: Postemployment Services

Postemployment services assist individuals to achieve employment stability and deal with crises that can lead to job loss. The first few months of employment are a critical time for new workers, so postemployment follow-up and support services are important to the success of individuals in retaining employment.

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions Office staff offers postemployment services to Choices individuals, including applicants, conditional applicants and former recipients who obtained employment but require additional assistance in retaining employment and achieving self-sufficiency.

Key postemployment services include the following:

B-902.a: Applicants

Boards may provide postemployment services to help applicants retain employment and advance their careers, including the following:

B-902.b: Former Recipients, Conditional Applicants and Sanctioned Families

Boards must be aware that postemployment services for former recipients, conditional applicants and sanctioned families are time-limited and depend on the following:

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B-903: Choices Plus

Boards must be aware of the following:

Choices Plus is a separate Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)-funded postemployment service available to individuals who are no longer receiving cash assistance benefits who are at risk of returning to TANF. A person is considered at risk of returning to TANF if he or she is a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipient or receiving Texas Workforce Commission-funded child care.

Sanctioned families and conditional applicants are eligible for Choices Plus services if they obtain employment during their demonstrated cooperation period.

B-903.a: Choices Plus in TWIST

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions Office staff opens a Choices Plus case in The Workforce Information System of Texas (TWIST) under one of the following three scenarios:

  1. If Workforce Solutions Office staff is working with the Choices participant when the TANF benefits are denied, the Choices case must be closed and a Choices Plus case created.
  2. If a Choices case is reopened, and Choices Plus services will be provided, a Choices Plus case must be created.
  3. If a former recipient was never enrolled in Choices, and Choices Plus services will be provided, a Choices Plus case must be created.

Boards must ensure that, if an applicant receives Choices Plus services and subsequently begins receiving TANF assistance again, Workforce Solutions Office staff—upon certification for TANF assistance—transfers any participation hours counted and tracked in TWIST from the Choices Plus case to a new Choices case.

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B-904: Work Opportunity Tax Credit

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax credit used to reduce the federal tax liability of private, for-profit employers.

Employers may hire qualified TANF individuals and receive a credit of up to $2,400 per eligible worker. The credit is based on 40 percent of up to $6,000 in qualified wages during the employee’s first year of employment. 

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B-905: Earned Income Tax Credit

A rider in the General Appropriations Act, established by the Texas legislature, requires Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) to assist employed Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients and other low-income workers who may qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) with applying for its benefits.

The rider also states that TWC can assist eligible individuals in preparing and filing income tax returns by working with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to establish Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites within Workforce Solutions Offices.

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions Offices in their local workforce development areas (workforce areas) assist employed TANF recipients and other low-income workers who may qualify for EITC.

To assist eligible individuals in preparing and filing federal tax returns for the current calendar year, Boards may provide space for VITA sites within Workforce Solutions Offices in their workforce areas. VITA site volunteers will provide free assistance with preparing and filing tax returns.

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