TANF in Wisconsin is called Wisconsin Works (W-2). Despite the name difference, Wisconsin Works is like all other Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs in that it provides cash assistance to needy families. Wisconsin is specific about its work requirements and new participants will be placed in a work group during their application process if they are capable of work.
When asking “What is TANF?”, state residents should understand that federal can have slightly different requirements from state to state, but much of the program basics are universal. In addition to the national standards, the state of Wisconsin contributes its own benefits and requirements. Potential beneficiaries can continue reading the sections below for more information
Who qualifies for TANF in Wisconsin?
A TANF application collects information on the finances and identity of applicants in order to determine their eligibility. Wisconsin is one of the states that allows pregnant women to claim TANF benefits for an unborn child and has a few other state-specific requirements. One of the most basic requirements is the presence of a child 18 years of age or younger in the household. For instances where only the child is able to get benefits, child protective service departments manage cases and benefits. To qualify for W-2, the candidate must:
- Live in Wisconsin or be a migrant worker who demonstrates intent to live in the state.
- Be a United States citizen or eligible noncitizen.
- Show proof of efforts to obtain a job in the last 180 days.
- Did not turn down a job offer in the last 180 days.
- Verify school attendance for all children between 5 and 18 years of age.
- Earn less than the state income limits.
- Verify pregnancy, if the pregnant applicant has no other children.
Candidates who receive TANF are also eligible for SNAP and Medicaid. Applicants can ask caseworkers about other government assistance programs they can use to help support their households.
How to Apply for TANF in Wisconsin
You can apply for TANF at the W-2 office that serves your county. There is no online application available through the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF), but the website can be used to locate the W-2 agency closest to you.
The application officially begins the day the candidate returns the signed registration form to the W-2 office. A DCF caseworker will hold the intake interview no more than seven days after the completed submission of the application. A caseworker will verify all the financial and identity on the application before authorizing candidates for TANF benefits.
There are a handful of documents that applicants should prepare ahead of their interview. In addition to verifying the age and relationship of all family members, candidates must show proof of:
- Income and asset value.
- Housing costs.
- Legal residency or citizenship.
- School enrollment.
- Social security numbers.
- Child care costs.
- Disability, if applicable.
No more than seven working days after the interview, the case manager must make a decision based on the TANF eligibility requirements. Applicants will be placed in the W-2 group that is best suited to them, and the process will be considered complete when an adult member of the family has signed the Application Summary form in the presence of a W-2 worker.
For more information about how to apply for TANF in your state, download our guide.
How much cash assistance will I get in Wisconsin?
Cash assistance in Wisconsin is determined by family size, income and the work position the candidate is granted. For examples, candidates working community service jobs might be granted as much as $653 a month. Meanwhile, women who are placed into an at-risk pregnancy group might be granted $673 a month.
Any questions about your grants should be addressed to your family support specialist. Two common questions first-time applicants might have are:
- Do you have to pay back TANF?
TANF recipients are not billed for the value of the assistance they claim, and they do not incur any debt. Beneficiaries only have to pay back TANF is they receive an overpayment, and the overpaid amount determines the repayment schedule. If the excess benefits are less than $300 dollars, then recipients pay the amount back at 10 percent of the amount per month. Fraudulent TANF claims can result in disqualifications, repayment and other penalties.
- What time does TANF deposit?
W-2 has two payment schedules. Candidates will receive their payment in the last five days of a month or within the first seven days. Which payment schedule an applicant is assigned depends on when he or she was authorized for assistance.
Wisconsin determines TANF benefits by family size, and families are required to report any changes in status. Status changes might include a family member being absent for more than 30 days or a child aging out of the system. These changes will affect the grant amount.
How long does it take to get TANF benefits in Wisconsin?
If a caseworker does not specify, applicants must make sure to ask, “When will I receive my TANF benefits?” Prorated payments will be issued to new participants the month they are approved. The amount and the issuance date are dependent on the W-2 participation period and whether the new beneficiary was placed in a W-2 work position.
How long can you receive TANF in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin has a 60-month time limit on assistance. This limit is only applicable to parents. Children who received assistance will still be eligible to apply for TANF grants as adults. Any months of TANF assistance collected in other states will count against the 60-month lifetime limit in Wisconsin. Some recipients may be eligible for a TANF extension after they exceed the lifetime limit, so applicants must make sure that they check the requirements for this type of assistance.
Some W-2 participants may only claim 24 months of cash help at one time. After the allotted time is expended, these recipients may be able to reapply in the future. Participants are reassessed for benefits each year, and their W-2 benefits could be terminated before the 60-month limit if they exceed the TANF income limits. A participant who believes his or her TANF payment schedule was unfairly disrupted may appeal the decisions of the DCF.
How can I check my TANF status in Wisconsin?
A W-2 caseworker is required to make a decision on your case in no more than 12 days. However, if you have questions during the process, the best way to check your status is by calling the nearest W-2 agency.
As Wisconsin does not offer a TANF online application or benefits portal for users, your district’s W-2 office is the only way to manage your case details. Keep your Social Security Number and your TANF number on hand. If you have questions because the case manager will need these numbers to manage your account. For more information about how to apply for TANF in your state, download our guide.