Except as otherwise provided in this section, an applicant or current participant shall receive temporary cash assistance for no more than a lifetime cumulative total of 48 months, unless otherwise provided by law. (1) Hardship exemptions from the time limitations provided in this section may not exceed 20 percent of the average monthly caseload, as determined by the department in cooperation with CareerSource Florida, Inc. Criteria for hardship exemptions include:
(a) Diligent participation in activities, combined with inability to obtain employment.
(b) Diligent participation in activities, combined with extraordinary barriers to employment, including the conditions which may result in an exemption to work requirements.
(c) Significant barriers to employment, combined with a need for additional time.
(d) Diligent participation in activities and a need by teen parents for an exemption in order to have 24 months of eligibility beyond receipt of the high school diploma or equivalent.
(e) A recommendation of extension for a minor child of a participating family that has reached the end of the eligibility period for temporary cash assistance. The recommendation must be the result of a review that determines that the termination of the child’s temporary cash assistance would be likely to result in the child being placed into emergency shelter or foster care.
(2) A victim of domestic violence may be granted a hardship exemption if the effects of such domestic violence delay or otherwise interrupt or adversely affect the individual’s participation in the program.
(3) The department, in cooperation with CareerSource Florida, Inc., shall establish a procedure for approving hardship exemptions and for reviewing hardship cases at least once every 2 years. Local workforce development boards may assist in making these determinations.
(4) For individuals who have moved from another state, the months in which temporary cash assistance was received under a block grant program that provided temporary assistance for needy families in any state shall count towards the cumulative 48-month benefit limit for temporary cash assistance.
(5) For individuals subject to a time limitation under the Family Transition Act of 1993, that time limitation shall continue to apply. Months in which temporary cash assistance was received through the family transition program shall count towards the time limitations under this section.
(6) Except when temporary cash assistance was received through the family transition program, the calculation of the time limitation for temporary cash assistance shall begin with the first month of receipt of temporary cash assistance after the effective date of this act.
(7) Child-only cases are not subject to time limitations, and temporary cash assistance received while an individual is a minor child shall not count towards time limitations.
(8) An individual who receives benefits under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program or the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is not subject to time limitations. An individual who has applied for supplemental security income (SSI) or supplemental security disability income (SSDI) but has not yet received a determination must be granted an extension of time limits until the individual receives a final determination on the SSI or SSDI application. Determination shall be considered final once all appeals have been exhausted, benefits have been received, or denial has been accepted without any appeal. While awaiting a final determination, the individual must continue to meet all program requirements assigned to the participant based on medical ability to comply. If a final determination results in the denial of benefits for supplemental security income (SSI) or supplemental security disability income (SSDI), any period during which the recipient received assistance under this section shall be counted in the recipient’s 48-month lifetime limit.
(9) A person who is totally responsible for the personal care of a disabled family member is not subject to time limitations if the need for the care is verified and alternative care is not available for the family member. The department shall annually evaluate an individual’s qualifications for this exemption.
(10) A member of the staff of the local workforce development board shall interview and assess the employment prospects and barriers of each participant who is within 6 months of reaching the 48-month time limit. The staff member shall assist the participant in identifying actions necessary to become employed before reaching the benefit time limit for temporary cash assistance and, if appropriate, shall refer the participant for services that could facilitate employment.