The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides temporary financial assistance for pregnant women and families with one or more dependent children.
TANF uses state funds to provide up to 5 years of cash assistance along with work readiness, training and job placement services.
The primary purposes of TANF are to provide families in need with:
- Temporary cash assistance for basic needs (food, clothing, housing, etc)
- Transitional services to reduce ongoing dependency and encourage responsibility (GED preparation, postsecondary education, vocational training and rehabilitation, classes in basic English, child care assistance, etc)
- Support with issues related to substance abuse, mental health, and domestic violence
Eligible TANF households receive monthly financial assistance to help pay for food, shelter, utilities, and other necessary expenses. The amount of your cash benefits depends on the size of your family and the state where you live.
Families receiving TANF cash assistance are also automatically eligible for food benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Who is eligible for TANF?
Federal law requires states to restrict TANF cash assistance to “needy” families with low income. However, there is no federal definition of need, so each state will have a unique criteria for determining if a family is eligible for cash assistance.
Low income families with one or more dependent children under the age of 18, or age 18 if a full-time student in secondary school, are eligible for TANF assistance.
You do not qualify for TANF if you have been convicted of certain felony offenses, violated your probation or parole, refuse to work or pursue child support enforcement, withhold information needed to determine eligibility, or have used up your five years of TANF benefits.
TANF is a work program, but in many states you are not required to participate in the work program if you meet one of the following conditions:
- You are age 60 or older
- You are a parent taking care of child under 1 year of age
- You are approved to receive Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments from the Social Security Administration.
- You are a veteran who is approved to receive disability payments from the Veteran’s Administration.
How do I apply for this program?
To sign-up for TANF temporary benefits, you can:
- Apply at your local or county social services agency, or
- Call your state TANF office for your local contact information.