You may be wondering, “What is TANF”? Formerly known as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, TANF is a government-funded program that offers cash assistance to impoverished families that cannot afford basic necessities, like food, shelter and clothing. While TANF is a federal program, it is operated and administered by state. This means that the TANF application process varies from one state to the other. This is primarily due to each state’s TANF eligibility requirements, and what each state constitutes as “needy.” While most states examine a family’s size, income and expenses, these states also determine their own income limits.
Furthermore, the way in which you apply for TANF benefits may differ in your state. While many states allow applicants to apply for the program online, other states only allow you to submit your application in person at the appropriate department’s office. To learn more about the general application process for TANF and how they differ by state, read the following sections below.
Find Out About TANF Requirements by State
To apply for TANF benefits, applicants must be residents of their state in which they are applying. They must also be U.S. citizen, legal alien or permanent resident. While there are federal TANF eligibility requirements, they are considered vague and are subject to interpretation for participating states. For example, the term “needy” can be defined differently by states depending on the income limits they set and whether they take assets and resources into account. TANF income limits are typically determined by the family size and federal poverty level. While most states, like Florida, evaluate a family’s assets, others have eliminated the asset test and have chosen to focus primarily on income.
This means that a family may qualify for TANF in Texas and not meet income requirements in Missouri. Additionally, federal law limits cash assistance to families who have a dependent child or a member of the household that is pregnant. Federally, a dependent child is a minor younger than 18 years of age or 18 years of age and a full-time student in college. However, many states expand TANF qualifications to older children who share a home with their parents. For example, Washington provides financial assistance to children 19 years of age or younger. To maintain eligibility, most states require these children to be enrolled in high school or secondary school.
Moreover, a majority of states have specific work requirements for adult beneficiaries looking to apply for TANF. If recipients cannot find immediate employment, they must participate in employment-related activities that will improve their chances of securing a stable job. These activities may include vocational education training, job search and community service. Furthermore, states like Alabama require that adults undergo drug screenings to maintain benefits. To determine eligibility, applicants may be able to use an online TANF calculator if their state provides it. While Delaware has one available online, Georgia does not have one. To learn more about how you can apply to TANF, download our comprehensive guide.
How do I apply for TANF in my state?
The TANF application process may vary depending on which state you live in. You can complete a TANF online application in Utah through a MyCase account that allows you to submit an electronic form and receive status updates on your case number and benefits. On the other hand, you can only apply for TANF in Oregon via mail, FAX and in person at your local Department of Human Services Self-Sufficiency office. To learn more about this application process, download our comprehensive guide.
While some states do not have the convenience of completing a TANF application through an online portal, a majority of states do. Additionally, many states provide the option of applying in person through a Department of Social Services or Department of Health and Human Services. If you would like to apply for TANF benefits in your state, you must contact the appropriate office. While the location for applying will vary by state, the type of documentation you will need to include with your application is generally the same. You can expect to provide the following for all household members:
- Proof of identification
- Proof of Social Security Numbers
- Evidence of income and assets
- Records of household expenses
After applying for TANF benefits, you may be contacted to proceed with an interview. You will be further reviewed and asked multiple questions to help determine your qualifications for the program. Your caseworker will notify you if he or she needs any additional documentation to verify a claim on your application. Upon approval, there may be a few things you must agree to before collecting benefits. If you live in West Virginia, you will be required to create and sign a personal responsibility contact and complete a program orientation.
How much cash assistance will I get?
You may be wondering how much money do you get from TANF in your state. The amount of benefits you will be eligible to receive will be based on whether your household income meets TANF income limits. Furthermore, states will look at how your income correlates with your household size and expenses. Check how much your state offers in TANF benefits by family size to get a better idea of how much money you will receive.
You may also be wondering “Do you have to pay back TANF in your state”? The only instance where you will be expected to pay back benefits is if you falsified your information during the application or you received an overpayment benefits. Furthermore, you may lose benefits or be forced to pay back benefits if you did not report pertinent information that would affect your TANF qualifications and whether you would have continued to receive benefits. The amount of cash assistance you will be eligible to receive in your state will ultimately depend on your financial background. If your state has a TANF calculator, you may utilize this tool to get a better prediction of the amount of benefits you and your family will be eligible to receive.
How long can you receive TANF benefits?
The length of your TANF benefits depends on which state you live in. While you may only receive a maximum of 24 months in Idaho, you may receive benefits for a maximum of 60 months in Kentucky. Regardless of your state, you will only be able to receive benefits for the maximum time allotted in your state in one lifetime. This means that after you have exhausted your benefits, you will not qualify to receive benefits again. However, this does not typically include children who were younger than the age of 18 years old when they received benefits. Furthermore, TANF in Kentucky does not require that you accept benefits for 60 consecutive months. You do have the option of dividing your TANF payment schedule during times you need them the most.