Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or the TANF is a program funded by both the federal government and the state government.

It aims to provide a safety net for families who are financially struggling and cannot provide for the family’s basic needs.

There are 4 goals that TANF focuses on, which are the following:

  1. It provides financial assistance to low-income households to maintain and ensure that children are cared for and live in a healthy and sustained environment with parents or relatives;
  2. It orients parents in terms of job preparation, work, and marriage to promote financial independence and stop their dependency on the government;
  3. It aims to eradicate and reduce out-of-wedlock pregnancies; and
  4. It encourages married couples in establishing a two-parent family.

How Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Works

In the TANF program, the federal government provides block grants to the states and each state has the responsibility to organize and provide the TANF program to eligible families. 

This means that the state or territory is in charge of designing the program within its area. This includes aspects such as the amount of assistance received, eligibility requirements, and other services.

States are also required to use their own funds to support the program and to receive funding from the federal government. This requirement is also known as the Maintenance of Effort of MOE.

Hence, the sources for the TANF program in each state are both from the federal government and the state government.

Eligibility for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

As mentioned earlier, eligibility requirements in each state may vary as well as the limit of benefits the grantees will receive. Usually, the amount of cash assistance will be based on the family’s income and size.

Keep the following points in mind:

  • If a household is composed of 3 members without a source of income, they will receive an amount of 654 US dollars of grant each month (this may vary based on the state or area you live in);
  • If a family member starts working, only half of the earnings will be counted against the grant; and
  • If a family member starts receiving unemployment benefits or other types of assistance from the government, the full amount of the earnings will be counted against the TANF grant.

To be eligible for a TANF grant, you should meet the eligibility requirements:

  • The basic income requirement would be having an income resource of 6,000 US dollars or less (although this does not apply in all states);
  • Applicant must be a legal citizen of the US and live within the state where they applied;
  • Applicant must be either unemployed or underemployed;
  • The applicant has a low income;
  • Applicant must have a child or children under the age of 18 years old;
  • Applicant can be pregnant; and
  • Applicants can be under 18 years old and are the head of the family.

Take note that some states might have additional requirements. If you want to know more specific details regarding eligibility requirements, you can visit your state’s local agency or their official site if available.

How to Apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

If you want to apply for TANF benefits you can opt for an online application or through your state’s local agency. You can look for your state’s site using HHS official website.

If you are in doubt about your eligibility, it is not a bad choice to apply for TANF since one of the sure ways to determine your eligibility is by applying.

TANF’s Work Requisites

When your TANF application is approved, it is very crucial to do the following:

  • Cooperate in events or meetings with the Division of Child Support;
  • Live in an appropriate living environment especially if you are a teen parent; and
  • Participate in events related to the Workfirst program and other referred programs if you are required to.

The Workfirst Program

Part of your TANF benefit membership is the assistance from the Workfirst program. This program will:
  • Assist in child care expenses;
  • Orient and help you in terms of job search, resume writing, and interview skills; and
  • Offers training opportunities that will help you get a better job easier.

There are more benefits and types of assistance you can get from Workfirst. You can talk to your case manager for more details.

Time Limitations

TANF offers only temporary assistance to needy families. This means that there is a time limitation in getting benefits from the program. TANF offers a total of 60 months to claim benefits throughout your life unless you are granted an extension.

Frequently Asked Questions

Your TANF benefits will be determined based on the following:

  • The number of eligible members of the household;
  • Income and resources of household members;
  • Work and child expenses; and
  • The current amount of payment.

Job Opportunity and Basic Skills or the JOBS program is a program that aims to help individuals acquire skills that will transform them into financially self-sufficient individuals. When you are a TANF member, you are required to participate in this program.

If you are receiving TANF grants, you are required to participate in this program unless you are:

  • A parent or caretaker over the age of 65 years;
  • A parent or caretaker that takes care of a child under 4 months old; and
  • Teenagers who are studying full-time.

An individual can be penalized. This means that the individual’s financial needs will be paid as a penalty for the violation. This will be effective for one month. If the individual fails to cooperate with the JOBS program during the sanction period, s/he will be removed from the TANF program for another one month. When the individual plans to reapply for TANF benefits, household members will no longer be eligible for the TANF grant unless the applicant cooperates with the requirements the JOBS program has set.

Work requirements may vary from state to state, but usually, members of the TANF are required to join the JOBS program as it will help them learn financial skills as well as job-seeking skills that will help them be financially self-sufficient individuals.

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