There are numerous government assistance programs available that are designed to assist individuals and families, however many of these programs are difficult to understand.
Unfortunately, this causes many people to miss out on potential benefits that could help improve their situation. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is no exception.
Although this program provides essential support for families in need, there are many factors that can make TANF difficult to understand.
For example, every state operates their own version of this federal program, so there are essentially 50 variations of TANF.
Furthermore, different states have given their TANF program unique names. The TANF program in Wisconsin is called Wisconsin Works while the Montana name for the program is Families Achieving Independence in Montana (FAIM).
Moreover, there are other differences between TANF in each state can include eligibility criteria for benefits. For example, some states will extend benefits to pregnant women, while others do not.
Certain states consider children to be dependents of their parents until they turn 18 years old while others consider individuals as children until they turn 26 years old.
It’s easy to see how these huge federal programs can quickly get confusing to navigate, which can make families miss out on potential benefits.
Fortunately, we have created a comprehensive guide to download that will help families understand the TANF assistance program.
Find Out the Basics of TANF
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program was launched in 1997 as a replacement for the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program.
Although TANF replaced the previous assistance program, they both aimed to provide financial assistance for low-income families.
The benefits from these two programs are similar, however the requirements for TANF are more strict and demanding that the requirements for AFDC.
Beneficiaries of TANF are required to meet additional work and income requirements that were not a part of AFDC.
In order to complete the application, the TANF agency will collect information about an applicant’s family relationships, income, assets, citizenship and ages in order to determine if they are eligible for benefits.
Hopeful applicants can submit their TANF forms by mail or in person in most states.
Some states will allow families to apply for benefits online, but this is less common.
When a family’s TANF application is approved, they will be eligible to claim the financial benefits from the program.
Depending on the size, income and assets of the family, they may be eligible for a different amount of cash benefits.
In certain cases, individuals with a disability status or those that have reaches specific employment milestones may be eligible for bonuses on their cash assistance.
Individuals and families who are interested in the TANF program will receive valuable information if they download our in-depth guide.
The TANF guide will help answer common questions like:
- Who is eligible to apply for TANF?
- What can TANF cash assistance be used to purchase?
- Are there any restrictions placed on TANF beneficiaries?
- How do TANF benefits work?
- How do I apply for TANF benefits?
- The TANF Application Process
For many government assistance programs, applicants will simply need to submit the forms and information required on the initial application.
However, the TANF program has additional requirements such as an interview, liaisons with child support services and the signing of certain contracts.
Applicants will need to fully understand and agree to the work requirements of the program before they receive any benefits.
Even after meeting the eligibility requirements for TANF, applicants must undergo an additional screening process.
Beneficiaries of TANF are required to provide their state agency with supporting documentation for all the information they provided, attend orientation programs and continue to meet their state’s work requirements.
Even after an applicant and their family have been approved to receive TANF assistance, the family will need to cooperate with child support and human services.
Child support and human services will often have a unique set of requirements for families, including attempts to establish paternity in some cases.
The TANF program also offers benefits to program participants for a limited period of time.
When approved for cash assistance, program participants will be told how much they will receive in benefits and for what length of time.
Extensions of TANF assistance benefits are typically only offered in a few specific cases.
Learn more about some of the circumstances that call for TANF assistance extensions by downloading our helpful guide.
Learn What to Do After You Submit a TANF Application
Even though some applicants may meet all of the eligibility requirements for TANF, they may still be denied for certain reasons.
For example, applicants for failed to complete a step in the application process or those who are required to provide proof of some information they provided on their forms may need to remedy the mistakes before receiving benefits.
Applicants who believe that they have been wrongly denied from the TANF process can also submit an appeal.
Submitting an appeal for a TANF denial begins a secondary process that requires additional paperwork and applicants will also likely be required to attend court hearings to plead their case.
TANF participants have the option to request an appeal in the case of a denial, if they are requesting a change in payments or when they want to contest sanctions against them and the benefits they receive.
Since there are numerous applicants for TANF, all appeals are required to be filed correctly in the correct time frame in order to be considered for approval.
Before filing an appeal, participants are encouraged to research the denials and appeals process that is provided in our complete guide to the TANF program.
Note: Participants who are filing an appeal are recommended to find a lawyer to represent them and their case.
The TANF agency will begin counting months from the time period that you have been approved for assistance on the first month that you collect benefits.
In certain cases, you may be eligible to receive benefit extensions or you may be reimbursed for uncounted months.
TANF also has a child-only version of the program that does not come with time limits, however the benefit amount for this program are limited compared to the standard TANF assistance.