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Mitigating The Benefits Cliff
The Benefits Cliff (or Cliff Effect) is a condition in which a pay increase results in a net loss of combined income and benefits.
Social benefit programs are designed in ways that disincentivize people from advancing financially.
The Benefits Cliff occurs because many public benefits instantly stop at a given income threshold. Once a participant crosses the threshold, benefits plummet to zero. There is no gradual phase-out.
For many benefits, the income thresholds are set by the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Food and Nutrition Services, for example, abruptly terminate when recipients earn more than 200% of the guidelines.
The overall goal of The ABC’s Benefits Cliff work is to shift the trajectory of families working toward economic stability by decreasing the number of families experiencing the public benefits cliff.
The ABC aims to accomplish this through support of individuals with first-hand experience of the benefits cliff’s effects, through development and support of long-term solutions identified through the Benefits Cliff Learning Groups, established in 2019.
The Benefits Cliff Committee oversees the work of the ABC in service of the Benefits Cliff Learning Groups by providing guidance, support, and by serving as connectors within the community. The Committee provides feedback and expertise when requested by Learning Groups, ensures that Learning Groups stay aligned with the goal of developing long-term solutions to decrease the number of families experiencing the public benefits cliff, and collaborates with the Advocacy Committee to educate the community on key advocacy topics.
Second Wednesday of every other month from 9-10 am
- Committee Chair: Sandra Fishel-Booth, The Winston-Salem Foundation
- Lori Fuller, Fuller Impact
- Reni Geiger, Goodwill Industries of NWNC
- Maegan Gomez, Community Member
- Adam Hill, Forsyth Futures
- Daniel Ludolf, Forsyth Futures
- Kaisha McDermott-Carter, Community Member
- Daniel Joyce, Legal Aid of NC
- Sheila Padrick, Goodwill
- Sulema Reichel, Forsyth County Department of Social Services
- Rodd Smith, United Way of Forsyth County
- Mia Stockton, Forsyth County Department of Social Services
- Shenell Thompson, Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust
Benefits Cliff Calculator
A Social Benefits calculator is used to help individuals better anticipate changes in social benefits such as food stamps and child-care assistance when monthly wages are changing. It provides information for various monthly wage scenarios. This free resource was produced in partnership by the Center for the Study of Economic Mobility at Winston-Salem State University and Forsyth Futures.
Benefits Cliff in Forsyth County Microsite
In 2019, Forsyth Futures produced an informational microsite, designed to inform local stakeholders on the complex conditions around the Benefits Cliff in Forsyth County.
Benefits Cliff Community Learning Groups
Three learning groups were launched in November, 2019 to focus on nonprofit solutions, employer solutions, and policy solutions to the Benefits Cliff, locally. Each group met in person several times before pausing work in March, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Groups were intentionally facilitated to center those with lived experience and foster a culture of learning and inclusion among individuals working together in new ways.
Recent Committee News
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