TANF in California, also referred to as the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility for Kids (CalWORKS), is a public assistance program that provides temporary financial assistance to needy families. To answer the question, “What is TANF?” it is important to know that Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, as the program is known nationally, is a state-run program that provides financial aid to families with children while enforcing work restrictions and encouraging self-sufficiency.
Before submitting a California TANF application, you should learn who this program is for and the eligibility requirements that your family must meet in order to receive assistance. Furthermore, assistance can only be received for a limited amount of time in your lifetime, regardless of whether you received benefits from California TANF or another state’s TANF program. To learn more about TANF benefits in California, review the sections below.
Who qualifies for TANF in California?
Before you follow the steps to apply for TANF in California, it is important to review whether or not you and your family will meet eligibility requirements for the program. As stated above, this assistance program is designed to provide temporary support to needy families. That being said, you must first meet the income requirements if you wish to receive benefits. These requirements state that you must be in a household with an income well below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). In addition to income requirements, there are also asset and resource limits that cannot be exceeded.
Note: Get details about qualifying for TANF in our in-depth guide.
The main TANF eligibility requirements include citizenship, age, income, resource and assets. Additionally, to receive help under the program, there must be an eligible child living within the home. Families that do not have children will not meet these eligibility requirements, regardless of whether or not the family meets other qualifications.
You may meet TANF qualifications if you:
- Are part of a family that has a child in the home that has been deprived of parental support or care due to the absence, death or disability of either parent.
- Are part of family in which both parents are in the home, but the primary earner is currently unemployed.
- Are a needy caretaker relative of a foster child.
You will not be eligible to receive TANF benefits if you do not meet the program’s eligibility requirements. However, if you are not certain whether or not you are eligible for TANF, then it is recommended that you submit an application in order to determine your family’s eligibility.
How to Apply for TANF in California
TANF in California can be applied to either online or by visiting an office in person. If you submit a TANF application online, it is worth knowing that you will still need to provide the necessary documentation to complete your application to your local office. However, California counties require a face to face eligibility interview after an application has been processed. This interview will allow your family’s case worker to determine whether or not your family may be eligible for the program. Generally, you can provide all necessary documentation during this interviews.
How much cash assistance will I get in California?
If you are wondering, “Do you have to pay back TANF?” the answer is generally that you do not. However, CalWORKS benefits must be repaid if you receive more benefits then you and your family were entitled to, if you intentionally lie on an application in order to receive financial assistance or if you fail to report any changes to your household that may affect your eligibility or benefit amount.
Therefore, TANF benefits do not have to be repaid, as long as you remain honest while you are receiving assistance. TANF benefits by family size will widely determine the amount of benefits that you and your family may be entitled to, as benefits are determined by household income and household size. Therefore, you must report any changes to your household, including the addition or loss of a household member, as changes such as these will have an effect on benefit amounts.
TANF benefits are provided through an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card, which can be used in a similar fashion as a debit card at authorized ATMs and point-of-sale terminals. Benefits are reloaded onto the card at the same time each month, as long as a family remains eligible for benefits. There are restrictions on where you may use an EBT card. For example, you may not use an EBT card at liquor stores, tobacco shops, gambling establishments or adult entertainment establishments.
Learn more about how much TANF assistance you may receive in our comprehensive guide.
How long does it take to get TANF benefits in California?
If you are wondering, “What time does TANF deposit in California?” it is important to know that your benefit date will be between the first and third day of each month, depending on the last digits of your EBT card. Deposits are always made on the same day each month, as long as a family remains eligible, and any remaining balances from the previous month are carried over.
If you are asking, “When will I receive my TANF benefits initially in California?” then it is worth knowing that the application process may take up to 45 days from the date that you submit your application. However, families that have little to no cash with the need for immediate housing, food, utility, clothing or medical care assistance may be eligible to receive immediate financial aid for short-term help while an application is being processed.
How long can you receive TANF in California?
TANF in California may be received for a maximum period of five years within an adult’s lifetime. This limitation does not apply to children. After you have received CalWORKS (or any other state TANF program) for period of five years, you will no longer be eligible to receive assistance. This five-year period does not have to be consecutive, and TANF financial aid does not have to just be received in one state in order to reach this cut off point. This means that the limit will take effect even for those who have received assistance in multiple states.
How can I check my TANF status in California?
If you submitted a TANF online application in California, it is worth knowing that you can review the status of your application online. Alternatively, you can also check your application status by contacting your local office either in person or by phone.