TANF in Vermont is a program design to help families through financial assistance and work support services. The programs has different parts for different types of assistance, and it goes by state names. Assistance through Reach Up is designed to help eligible parents find work and become independent. It provides cash grants for necessities and job training to help parents secure work. Vermont offers Reach First, Reach Ahead, Reach up and Reach Up Child Only, depending on applicant needs.
“What is TANF?” is a common question for families in need of assistance. Your family might be able to benefit from one of the available programs if they meet TANF eligibility requirements. The essential services offered by Reach Up are workforce placement, cash benefit and additional child care services. Your family may not qualify for one part of the program, but you should make sure you look at all of the offered programs to see what benefits you can apply for.
Who qualifies for TANF in Vermont?
Families who want to submit a TANF application must first determine which cash assistance program is best suited to them. Vermont offers four options for benefits: Reach Up, Reach Ahead, Reach First and Reach Up Child Only. To qualify for any of the four programs, a candidate must:
- Live in the state of Vermont.
- Be a United States citizen or eligible noncitizen.
- Earn less per month than the state-determined income limit.
- Own assets of a lesser value than the set maximum.
- Care for at least one child younger than 18 years old.
Reach Up and Reach Up Child Only provide ongoing assistance while Reach First is provided for those who need short-term TANF benefits. To qualify for Reach First, a candidate must:
- Meet all the eligibility requirements above.
- Be a first-time applicant.
- Need assistance for four months or less.
Reach First is the prime option for families experiencing short-term financial difficulty, such as unexpected medical costs or a gap between jobs. Reach Ahead offers assistance for applicants moving out of the Reach Up program/ Reach Ahead is also available to those applicants transitioning out of a Postsecondary Education program for work purposes.
How to Apply for TANF in Vermont
Vermont offers three ways to apply for TANF: online, in person and by mail. Benefits Services in Vermont also supplies interpreters frees of charge for applicants who need language assistance.
Families can choose the method of applying that is best suited to their needs. If you plan to submit an application, you can do so through the following methods:
- Online: You can register for an account through the Vermont Department of Children and Families website. If you are a new user, you will have to create an account with your email and choose a password. After, you will be able to submit an online application and manage all your benefits through the portal.
- By Mail: To send an application by mail, you should call the Benefits Service Center and request that an application be mailed to your home address. You could also pick up a paper form at the county Economic Services Department (ESD) during business hours and submit it by mail when you have filled out the information.
- In person: If you would like to submit the forms in person, or if you have questions about the TANF eligibility requirements, you can visit the county ESD office to file a paper form.
After a caseworker reviews the initial qualifications, candidates will be asked to provide documentation confirming their information. The final step of the application process is a TANF interview that can conducted in person or by phone. Families who meet TANF qualifications and pass the interviews will meet with a caseworker to assess the family’s strength and potential in the workforce.
For more information about how to apply for TANF in your state, download our guide.
How much cash assistance will I get in Vermont?
There is no state-approved Vermont TANF calculator, but Reach Up recipients will receive a TANF benefit amount proportional to a few factors. The state of Vermont marks amounts considered “basic need” by a family depending on size, and cash help is calculated to compensate for the gap between family need and family income.
Benefits are distributed each month, and those applying for the first time might be curious about their grants. Two key questions regular recipients of money grants might ask:
- Do you have to pay back TANF?
Reach Up in Vermont is part of the federal TANF service and beneficiaries do not owe the state any debt. There is only one exception in which a Reach Up or Reach First recipient would be required to pay back TANF. In cases where a grant error is made and the state issues an overpayment of $35 or more, the candidates is required to pay back the overpayment amount. Applicants who submitted fraudulent claims must pay back benefits.
- What time does TANF deposit?
Reach Up has two payment schedules. Most beneficiaries will collect the full amount of their grant in the beginning of every month. In special cases, some applicants might be placed on a 60-40 payment schedule. On the 60-40 schedule, 60 percent of the total grant will be distributed on the first of the month and the remaining 40 percent will be allotted on the 16th. A caseworker will explain which payment schedule is set for an applicant’s case.
The value of the cash assistance is the one of key differences between Reach up and Reach Up Child Only. Child Only grants are issued to children living with a relative who is not their parent or families in which the adult is no longer eligible for Reach Up but the children can still benefit. In these cases, the adult members of the family are not counted. As the state calculates TANF benefits by family size, the Child Only program offers lesser grants based on the children.
How long does it take to get TANF benefits in Vermont?
Provided the applicant meets all Reach Up eligibility requirements, money assistance will be granted on the day of authorization. At most, qualified candidates will receive their Reach up benefits 30 days after completing their application.
If the authorization date falls in the middle of the month, Reach Up beneficiaries will receive a prorated money grant for their first month. These Reach Up grants will be distributed to the family caretaker. The caretaker may collect the assistance through the methods determined by the Vermont Department for Children and Families.
How long can you receive TANF in Vermont?
There is a 60 month limit on receiving Reach Up assistance in Vermont. Any months enrolled in similar TANF programs in other states will be counted against the applicant’s total lifetime limit in Vermont. All months, full or partial, that an individual claims benefits counts towards the total. Further, if two parents in the household have received benefits, the total will be based on the greater number.
However, months spent in Reach First do not count towards the total limit. There are other exceptions in which a month might not be counted. The participant being unable to work or recovering from domestic violence are two such examples.
If a participant’s benefits are terminated, for exceeding the TANF income limit or violating a program’s requirement, he or she may reapply in 60 months.
How can I check my TANF status in Vermont?
You can check your Reach Up or Reach First status on the same website used to submit the TANF online application. The web account will display important benefit information, such as the grant amount or the TANF payment schedule. It also allows applicants to update their account information or upload necessary documents without the assistance of a caseworker.
If you would prefer to speak with the Benefits Services for any reason, you can visit a local ESD office to ask in person or call the Benefits office. You will need your social security and TANF number to access your case details. For more information about how to apply for TANF in your state, download our guide.