TANF in Pennsylvania refers to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. You may wonder, “What is TANF?” if this is your first time hearing about it. It is a joint state and federal program that provides cash assistance to eligible families. TANF is meant to provide financial support to needy families while also promoting ways to gain independence. The program, which started back in 1997, also provides medical assistance to those who are eligible for cash benefits. The program caters to low-income families. As such, there are income and asset limits that applicants must meet to qualify. There are also eligibility requirements surrounding applicants’ family structure and residency.
The TANF application process entails filling out a form and submitting it with proper documentation. Applicants must also participate in an interview process to further determine their needs in the program. Read the sections below for a detailed overview of the program in Pennsylvania.
Who qualifies for TANF in Pennsylvania?
Before submitting your TANF application, it is important to first know if you qualify. The program serves low-income families who do not have many assets and may not have a stable source of income. More specifically, it caters to families with dependent children and pregnant women. If you have a child but he or she is older than a certain age, then you may not qualify for TANF.
To be eligible for TANF benefits, applicants must also meet income requirements. The Pennsylvania DHS office reviews a family’s countable resources to determine their eligibility. These resources can include bank accounts, savings and assets such as cars. If the total cash value of these resources goes above a certain amount, then the applicant will not be eligible for the program. For additional TANF requirements, download our comprehensive guide.
How to Apply for TANF in Pennsylvania
To apply for the TANF program, applicants can do so in one of three ways: online, in person or via mail. To apply online, applicants must visit the state’s online portal. To complete the TANF online application or the paper form, applicants must gather some documents that they may need to complete the form. This includes the following:
- Social Security Number
- Federal income tax information
- Income sources, locations and amounts
- Health insurance
The reason you must submit all of this information is to verify that you meet TANF qualifications, namely TANF income limits and other criteria. Applying via mail entails printing the application, filling it out and sending it to your local DHS office in Pennsylvania. You, like some applicants, may choose to complete the process in person. If so, then be sure to bring any documents you may need to fill out the TANF application form. It is important to note that Pennsylvania does not have an application specifically for TANF. It has one application for all state-offered benefits including TANF, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and health care coverage. Download our guide for instructions on how to apply for TANF.
How much cash assistance will I get in Pennsylvania?
The amount of money you will receive once you receive TANF benefits varies from one family to the next. The applicant’s household income will play a role in how much they receive. Typically, the higher your income, the less you will receive. However, the Pennsylvania DHS department distributes TANF benefits by family size. This means that a household with two persons will not receive the same as a family of six. How much you will receive in cash assistance benefits can range anywhere from $200 to $700.
You may look online for a Pennsylvania TANF calculator to get an idea of what you may receive. While the DHS does not provide an official calculator, they do provide the maximum benefit amount a family may receive based on their county and the number of persons in their household. However, it is important to keep in mind that those figures display maximums and may vary by family.
How long does it take to get TANF benefits in Pennsylvania?
After submitting your application for TANF in Pennsylvania, TANF caseworkers must first review it. If you meet the initial qualifications, then the caseworker will schedule an interview. The meeting is meant to determine your family’s need and verify the information listed on the application. As such, you will likely need to bring proof of documentation. This entire process can take up to a month. By law, you must receive an answer to your application within a certain time frame.
After receiving benefits, many applicants wonder, “Do you have to pay back TANF?” The answer is no. The joint state and federal program is a grant funded by taxes. As such, beneficiaries do not pay back the department. However, if a TANF recipient misuses the benefits by selling it or letting unauthorized individuals use it, then that constitutes fraud. As such, he or she may have to repay the benefits. Recipients may also be at risk of permanently losing their benefits.
As for what time does TANF deposit, it can vary from one person to the next. However, recipients can expect a consistent TANF payment schedule on the same date every month.
How long can you receive TANF in Pennsylvania?
Once you have answered the question “When will I receive my TANF benefits?” your next question may be regarding the duration of benefits. TANF in Pennsylvania typically lasts about five years for adults and heads of households. This limit is set for the beneficiary’s entire lifetime. If a beneficiary leaves the program and re-enters months or years later, then he or she will not get an additional five years. Instead, TANF caseworkers will determine how much time he or she has left based on when he or she left initially. For children, there is no limit on benefits.
How can I check my TANF status in Pennsylvania?
There are several ways to check on the status of your TANF application. The first method is by contacting your local county assistance office. Once you locate the TANF number, you can call and ask for a status update. You may need to provide some sensitive information to find your application.
If you submitted a TANF online application, then you can easily check on its status by visiting the DHS’ online portal where you applied or logging into their mobile application.