The federal government funds a program called the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, or TANF in Oklahoma. Many residents wonder, “What is TANF and what are its benefits?” This program was implemented to help families who are struggling financially due to a death, disability, parental absence or unemployment. Benefits from the TANF program are typically issued in the form of cash assistance. However, cash assistance from TANF is only available to families on a time-limited basis, because of the program’s goal to help households become financially self-sufficient.
For some residents of Oklahoma, TANF can also provide other work support services, such as payments for performing work activities. Any individuals receiving TANF will also receive child support collection services from Child Support Enforcement. Anyone who has a need for cash assistance has the right to apply in Oklahoma, and residents should be aware that there are other government programs that may be available to them. Eligible household members may also receive SoonerCare (Oklahoma Medicaid), child care subsidies and access to Job Readiness Activities.
Who qualifies for TANF in Oklahoma?
To be considered eligible for cash assistance, applicants must meet established TANF requirements in Oklahoma. The state’s application for TANF cash assistance is bundled with other government assistance programs. Therefore, any household that applies for TANF may also receive food stamps, Medicaid or child care benefits. The basic requirements to apply for these programs include:
- Being a resident of Oklahoma.
- Having U.S. citizenship or legal alien status.
- Having a minor child living in the household.
- Meeting the established income requirements for TANF eligibility.
- Having Social Security Numbers (SSNs) for all members seeking benefits.
- Agreeing to cooperate with Child Support services.
- Agreeing to cooperate with a personalized TANF Work Plan.
Learn more about requirements by downloading our in-depth guide.
Families or individual applicants will not be eligible for TANF without a minor child or children in the household. Non-citizens or unqualified immigrants will also be ineligible for TANF benefits.
Note: Cash assistance cannot be distributed to fugitive felons or anybody convicted of fraud regarding TANF. Their families can still receive benefits, but they will not be included in the calculations.
Temporary Absence Qualifications
Generally, when a person in a group receiving TANF benefits is temporarily absent, he or she will continue to be included in calculations for at least three months. Nonetheless, the following requirements must be met for an absence to be considered temporary:
- The location of the absent individual is known.
- There is a definite plan in place for the absent individual to return home.
- The absent individual was a member of the applicant’s household before the absence.
After an absence extends past three months, the individual will no longer receive benefits unless there is a circumstance that is deemed a “good cause.”
Download our in-depth guide to learn about other qualifications.
How to Apply for TANF in Oklahoma
Low-income families in Oklahoma have the benefit of submitting many government service applications, including for the TANF program, using just one form. This Request for Benefits is distributed and managed by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS). The application for government assistance can only be submitted directly to a local Department of Human Services (DHS) office. Each county has its own DHS, so locating an office should not be too difficult.
After an application has been submitted, the DHS will schedule an interview to verify the information provided on the form. If an applicant has submitted an incomplete application or left some parts blank, the TANF agent will help them gather the information required to complete the form. They will receive a form that lists the information that they need to provide proof for, as well as an estimate for the application’s processing time. Some information that may be requested during the interview portion of the TANF application process includes:
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or legal immigration status.
- Social Security Numbers (SSNs).
- Proof of all income for a household.
- Most recent bank statements.
- Proof of current value or assets.
- Proof of identity.
- Proof of child care costs.
- Proof of relationship to a child or children.
How much cash assistance will I get in Oklahoma?
The determination of the amount of cash assistance a family receives is based on a variety of information, so a simple TANF benefits calculator may be inaccurate. The best way of determining how much you can receive is to contact your local office or simply complete the application process.
How long does it take to get TANF benefits in Oklahoma?
The federal government mandates that all applications for TANF benefits be processed within 30 days of submission. In most cases, cash assistance is issued after the application has been successfully processed and approved. Families can usually expect their cash assistance within 30 days, except under certain circumstances. For example, if a work-eligible person included in a TANF assistance unit does not meet the minimum work requirements, she or he may not receive their portion of the benefits. Additionally, a family that is in an emergency situation can access benefits quicker if the DHS agent agrees that the circumstances are dire.
How long can you receive TANF in Oklahoma?
On a federal level, TANF benefits are limited to 60 months or five years. Many states implement their own time limits on TANF, but Oklahoma follows the federal limit. During this time, all adults in the household who are capable of working must do so. After receiving five years of benefits, participants will be ineligible from receiving any further benefits. However, if a child is still in need after the 60 month period, parents can still apply for benefits on their behalf. The decision to distribute cash assistance after the established time limit is entirely up to the DHS agent who is handling the case.
How can I check my TANF status in Oklahoma?
Residents of Oklahoma who are receiving government benefits who would like to check their TANF benefits status will need to visit their local DHS office. Since there all applications are delivered and processed in person, the DHS office will be able to answer any questions about the TANF program. Any participant who would like to check her or his status can do so by either visiting in person or calling and asking by phone.