TANF in Washington has two components: cash assistance for needy families and the WorkFirst program. The cash grants help families afford basic necessities such as food and clothing, but the WorkFirst program assists with additional work-related expenses and helps participants with job searches and work skills. Work-related expenses can include transportation, education expenses, work clothing and even vehicle repair. Those who are eligible for WorkFirst will be required to participate and meet the set work requirements in order to claim their TANF grants.
“What is TANF?” is a reasonable question for families when the program varies from state to state. TANF is a federal program, and Washington combines the national mandates with qualifications that are specific to the state. Washington offers unique services and additions to the program that benefit state residents. To better understand the Washington program, petitioners can read the sections below for TANF eligibility requirements and benefit information.
Who qualifies for TANF in Washington?
When submitting a TANF application, candidates must meet the state requirements. Washington judges candidates by income and citizenship standards, and those who meet the basic requirements are qualified for a final interview. The requirements for cash assistance in the state of Washington are:
- Candidate must have a child younger than 18 years old or be pregnant.
- Candidate must be a citizen or eligible noncitizen.
- Candidate must not have assets exceeding $1,000 in value.
- Candidate must not have an income that exceeds state income limits.
Applicants who do not meet all the requirements for TANF may still be qualified for Washington state programs, like State Family Assistance (SFA) or the Diversion Cash Assistance program. Applicants may even be eligible for other government assistance programs implemented by the state, such as food stamps or Section 8 housing.
How to Apply for TANF in Washington
You can apply for TANF online or at a nearby Community Services office. If you choose an in-person application, may sure that you visit the office at a time Applicants with limited mobility are entitled to accommodations and can call the county office to request assistance with their application.
The online option offers a pre-screening in addition to the application itself. Candidates who still have questions about the TANF eligibility requirements can check their own qualifications on the website and call a Department of Social and Health services office to ask about specifics.
If you know you are ready to submit an application, you will need to provide documentation of all information you report. The estimated required time to complete the application is 60 minutes, and applicants will need to gather:
- The Social Security Number of every family member.
- Income and resources.
- The citizenship or immigration status of all family members.
- Housing and childcare expenses.
- Utility costs.
- Name and date of birth for all family members.
In the final step of the application process, a case manager will invite the family for an interview either in person or by phone. Families will hear the final decision after the caseworker judges their TANF qualifications.
For more information about how to apply for TANF in your state, download our guide.
How much cash assistance will I get in Washington?
Washington determines TANF benefits by family size and income. A case manager judge the full value of the cash grant for the family. For example, a family of three might expect a maximum monthly payment $569. Families of smaller or larger sizes might expect their number to change by approximately $100 for each additional person.
There are many rules on TANF benefits use, and beneficiaries should address any concerns with their case manager up front. There are two popular questions first-time TANF beneficiaries ask about their cash grants:
- Do you have to pay back TANF?
TANF beneficiaries do not have to pay back the value of the cash grant. The TANF program is in place to help low income families afford basic necessities and find work, and recipients are not billed for the assistance they claim from the program. TANF grantees do not have to pay back any money they are given as assistance, unless the Department of Social and Health Services issues an overpayment.
- What time does TANF deposit?
You can choose to receive your cash assistance by a direct deposit to your bank or the Washington EBT Quest card. If your benefits come by the Washing EBT card, you will receive them on the first of every month. If your benefits are direct deposited to your bank account, the cash value will be released on the first working day of the month. If the first business day is a holiday, cash assistance will be granted the next day.
How long does it take to get TANF benefits in Washington?
Ask your caseworker, “When will I receive my TANF benefits?” An employee of the Department of Social and Health Services will be able to tell you if you are required to attend any orientations and how they will affect the start date for your benefits.
The DSHS tries to process applications as quickly as possible and requires that applications be processed in approximately 30 calendar days. Your benefits will start the day your eligibility is approved or the day you complete a required WorkFirst orientation, as needed.
How long can you receive TANF in Washington?
Washington allows TANF recipients to claim assistance for the full federal limit of 60 months. Any assistance claimed in other states will count toward the 60 month limit in Washington. However, any months of assistance from TANF before 1997 do not count toward the lifetime total.
There are a few exceptions for families to extend their assistance months, so long as they still meet the TANF income limits. Caring for a disables relative or working more than 32 hours a week are two reasons that a family may qualify for a time extension on TANF benefits.
How can I check my TANF status in Washington?
TANF applicants can check their application status online or by phone. With a Washington Connection account, candidates can see their status on the same portal they used to submit their TANF online application. Alternatively, a family awaiting review can call the DSHS office near them to look into their application.
Families that are eligible for TANF are automatically eligible for SNAP. Use your TANF number to apply for food stamps to increase the amount of aid your family can receive. For more information about how to apply for TANF in your state, download our guide.