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Learn About TANF Denials and Appeals
If you receive a TANF denial, you have the option to appeal the state’s decision. Getting denied TANF benefits can be a difficult experience, particularly if you have lost your primary source of income. Unfortunately, there are some cases where you will not be able to successfully appeal a denial, such as failing to meet the TANF eligibility requirements. However, there are valid reasons to appeal a denial and hope for a better decision. For example, if you believe you meet all the eligibility requirements and you may have been denied in error, you can file an appeal.
If you have been denied benefits through TANF, contact your state’s benefits department and file an appeal. You should be granted a hearing and an opportunity to make your case and prove you need and qualify for benefits. The sections below describe reasons you may be denied, when you can appeal a denial and how to complete the appeals process. However, to learn even more about how to appeal a TANF denial, download our informative guide.
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Reasons You May Be Denied
There are numerous reasons you can receive a denial of TANF benefits. Exact requirements and reasons may vary from state to state. However, you may be denied for any of the following reasons:
- Providing inaccurate information in your application
- Failing to complete the application process
- Failing to meet the stated eligibility requirements
After you complete the application process for TANF benefits, you will receive a response whether or not you have been accepted. You will receive a TANF benefits denial letter if your state’s department determines that you lied or provided inaccurate information on your application. When you fill out an application, you must be truthful about your family composition, income, rental history and more.
If you have a history of criminal offenses, many states will deny you benefits through TANF. However, failing to disclose a history of offenses will also render your application ineligible. When you submit a form, you must double-check your application to ensure that all the information is accurate and up to date. Even if you are initially approved, you can be denied further benefits if the state discovers your application was inaccurate.
Additionally, you can be denied benefits through TANF if you fail to complete the application process. In many states, the application process involves submitting a form, attending an eligibility interview and verifying any necessary information. If you fail to complete all three steps, many departments will consider it a withdrawal of your application. In such cases, you will be denied, and you will not receive benefits. Therefore, you should review your state’s application procedures carefully.
Finally, you will receive a TANF denial if you do not meet your state’s basic eligibility requirements. Although eligibility requirements vary from state to state, the federal government has minimum requirements in place. These minimum eligibility requirements include:
- Applicant must be pregnant or responsible for a child under 19 years of age.
- Applicant must be a U.S. citizen, legal alien or permanent resident.
- Applicant must have low or very low household income.
- Applicant must be underemployed, unemployed or about to become unemployed.
Before appealing a TANF denial, consider that the income requirements may vary from county to county. Double check the income requirements in your county to make sure that you fit the definition of low or very low income. If you believe you meet all the eligibility requirements, you can file an appeal of the department’s decision.
When should you appeal a denial letter?
There are cases when you have a legitimate reason to appeal a TANF denial letter. In some cases, you may be denied because the department processing your application misunderstood your circumstances. Some states, like Illinois, allow you to schedule a pre-appeal conference during which you can discuss your application. In that conference, you would identify potential miscommunications that would have erroneously caused the department to deny your application.
If the department disputes your application and insists you were correctly issued a TANF denial, you can still take it to a hearing. If you disagree with the department’s decision, you can bring evidence and witness testimony to the hearing to make your case. You may be allowed to review the records that the department used to determine your eligibility. If you believe the department misunderstands your circumstances, you should appeal a denial and attend a hearing.
How to Appeal a TANF Denial Letter
The exact process to appeal a TANF denial letter will vary from state to state. However, generally you begin by reviewing the letter detailing your denial. In almost all states, your denial letter must state the reason you were denied and provide instructions for how to file an appeal. If not, you can contact your state’s benefits department to ask where you should direct an appeal. The first step in appealing the decision should be to file a request for a hearing. States will have different time limits for how quickly you must appeal a TANF denial letter.
Download our free guide to learn more about filing a request for a hearing.
Once a hearing is set, begin gathering evidence to prove that you were unfairly denied benefits through TANF. This could include pay stubs documenting your income, testimony from neighbors about your household composition and more. The evidence required will depend on the reason for your denial. In some states, you may have a pre-conference hearing to review the circumstances of your case. If you have such a conference, you may be able to clarify any miscommunications that may have erroneously resulted in a denial.
If there are no miscommunications, you may proceed to the hearing. At the hearing, you should present any evidence and testimony you have to make your case. At the trial, you should present any evidence and testimony you have to make your case.
After you have a hearing to appeal a TANF denial letter, a hearing officer will review the testimony from both sides. If you have made your case sufficiently, the officer may choose to approve your application. If not, the officer may choose to uphold the department’s initial decision. Regardless of what decision is made, you will typically be notified in writing within a few days.