This study investigated factors affecting the return to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) programs by former participants who left welfare unemployed. Event history analysis was applied to the longitudinal data extracted from the Survey of Income and Program Participation 1996 panel. The results demonstrate a rate of return to TANF of between 20% and 36% for the final sample. They further suggest that sanctioning recipients for noncompliance with work requirements contributes to eventual dependency on TANF among former recipients. Results also show that the promotion of marriage in reformed welfare policy may help former recipients remain independent of welfare (and even free of poverty). Implications for policy were discussed.