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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 Benefits Cliff Committee of the ABC is tasked with raising awareness about the Benefits Cliff and identifying potential solutions, pilot efforts, and critical policy touchpoints.

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Committee Members

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Committee Meetings

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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


Blog posts about recent committee news and updates are coming soon!