On the most basic level, possibly the biggest problem of all is the simple process of defining who qualifies for welfare. Establishing guidelines to determine eligibility requires drawing a line and saying, "This amount of income and no more." "This level of impairment and no less." "This type of condition is covered under these circumstances."
Such rules and regulations are essential for the establishment and provision of services, as they define who may or may not be helped. However, the inflexibility of such guidelines always leaves some people "falling through the cracks" - earning just a few dollars too much, having a slightly different condition that renders the person ineligible for welfare even though great need is present.
The debate about how and where to draw the line frequently sidetracks welfare reform efforts.