The program for TANF in Tennessee, called Families First, is a temporary assistance program designed to promote self-sufficiency in low-income families. The program is managed through the Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) and provides more than cash assistance. The program offers child care, job training, education resources and transportation in its encouragement for families to find employment and independence.
Maybe you have asked, “What is TANF and how do I know if I am eligible?” TANF eligibility requirements consider a few factors, including household size, income and the age of the children in the household. The state also offers child-only benefits for children living with related family members that are not their parents. If you have any reason to believe that your family may benefit from Families First in Tennessee, read below to learn more about the program.
Who qualifies for TANF in Tennessee?
To meet TANF eligibility requirements in Tennessee, applicants must meet the financial standards and be willing to sign a Personal Responsibility Plan (PRP). The PRP has four key tenements on child care and requires that applicants attend work training. Families must also create a Family Empowerment Plan that addresses the family’s specific strength and needs in order to qualify for TANF benefits in Tennessee.
While Families First is a time-limited service restricted to families with children, there is a child-only exception plan for youth who live with a relative that is not their parent. If a family applies for this option, the adults may be exempt from the requirements of the standard Families First program.
Recipients of TANF must be residents of Tennessee and a United States citizen or have qualified non-citizen status. Further, children must be younger than 18 years of age and meet the TANF qualifications for a family relationship. Some children who are 19 years of age will still qualify for benefits under certain circumstances.
How to Apply for TANF in Tennessee
Candidates may fill out a TANF application for Families First at the Human Services office in their county or they can complete an application online at the Tennessee Human Services website. Applications are available in English, Spanish, Arabic and Somali.
The completed application can be submitted online, faxed or mailed to the county Human Services office. The TANF online application is available at the Tennessee DHS website.
As part of the application process, a DHS caseworker will ask for additional documentation. The paperwork requested by a DHS worker may include:
- Recent paystubs and bank statements.
- Utility bills.
- Birth certificates.
- Social Security cards.
- Tax Returns.
- Insurance policies.
If you apply for TANF in Tennessee, you will be contacted for an interview as soon as possible after submission. The DHS typically reviews applications and determines eligibility within 45 days. For more information about how to apply for TANF in your state, download our guide.
How much cash assistance will I get in Tennessee?
The average monthly cash benefit in Tennessee is almost $200 per month, but a range of benefits exist. Only a small percentage TANF beneficiaries receive over $300 per month in cash assistance. Tennessee determines TANF benefits by family size and if the family meets the qualifications for differential grants. With differential status, families are eligible for larger cash amounts than provided by the standard TANF rates.
How long does it take to get TANF benefits in Tennessee?
If you believe you are qualified for TANF benefits in Tennessee, apply quickly. Benefits, when approved, may be dated back to the submission of the application. Applicants will be informed of eligibility decisions on their case no more than 45 days after completing their applications and interviews.
When approved for cash assistance, TANF families will receive a loaded EBT card in the mail. Families who already have a card for SNAP benefits will see their assistance amount added to their card.
The TANF payment schedule is set to distribute assistance monthly. If you find there has been an error with your grant, use your Tennessee CaseConnect account to check that your benefits are open. Other errors that might occur are over or underpayments. If you notice an incorrect balance on your card, you may ask “Do I have to pay back TANF?” TANF must be paid back promptly if there is an excess of funds. To address this error, you can contact the DHS.
How long can you receive TANF in Tennessee?
Families may only collect TANF benefits in Tennessee for no more than 60 months in their lifetime. The Families First program is highly focused on creating independence for families and strongly encourages families to become self-sufficient.
The TANF time limit counts the first month a beneficiary takes benefits, even if that month is a partial month. Any TANF assistance collected in other states counts towards the total time limit of an applicant’s ability to benefit from TANF.
Adults who have collected their 60 months of TANF may apply again as a child-only exemption and may not be counted in the family total. Child-only cases are exempt from TANF time policy in Tennessee.
Adults who are nearing their 60 months may also be able to apply for TANF time extensions under good cause. Reasons a TANF holder may apply for the TANF extension under good cause include the applicant is older than 65 years of age, disabled or caring for a disabled relative.
How can I check my TANF status in Tennessee
There are two ways to check your TANF status in Tennessee. The most convenient way is to register for a CaseConnect account on the Tennessee DHS website. Through your CaseConnect account, you will be able to check your TANF status and view information on your First Families Case.
You can also check the status of your TANF application by downloading a form from the Tennessee DHS website and emailing it to their office. You may use the same method to report any changes in income or address to the department. In both cases, you will be prompted to supply your Social Security Number or your TANF number to access your case. For more information about how to apply for TANF in your state, download our guide.