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What is the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) All About?

By IntFormalities
Updated on March 15, 2023
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

One of your core responsibilities as a parent or guardian is to provide for your family. Keeping them safe, healthy, and sound is essential to their survival. However, this can often pose a challenge when you don’t have sufficient finances to cover the family’s bills. 

If you are struggling with rising inflation and are finding it difficult to provide for your family, know that you are not alone. Thankfully, the US government is offering financial help to those in need. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a program you need to know about and benefit from. In this article, we look at what TANF means and how to claim this benefit for your family. 

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, also known as TANF, is a federal-funded cash benefit program.

What is Temporary Assistance for Needy Families?

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a federal-funded benefit program that provides emergency cash assistance to families whose breadwinners cannot provide for their basic needs. While the US Federal Government funds the benefit, the grant funds are passed to the states to administer to needy families to achieve self-sufficiency. 

You can receive TANF with other benefits such as Medicaid, SSDI, and other benefits if eligible. You can confirm from your local office if you are eligible to claim other benefits.

Types of Assistance Under TANF

As stated earlier, while the federal government funds TANF, each state has complete jurisdiction to decide on the type and amount of emergency cash assistance granted to needy families. Know that each state runs its emergency cash assistance program under different names. Tribal groups in the US also have their own TANF schemes in place.

Despite all these differences, the assistance under TANF generally includes: 

  • Work assistance 
  • Childcare assistance
  • Job preparation
  • Home energy
  • Housing support 
  • Refundable tax credits
  • Program management

Who Qualifies for TANF?

The states decide who is eligible for the benefit and what form of assistance will be granted to eligible persons. In general, you must:

  • Be a US citizen or have legal immigration status. 
  • Have resources, assets, or properties worth $6,000 or less.
  • Be a resident of the state you’re applying. 
  • Have a child or children that is 18 years or younger. 
  • Be 18 or younger or the head of your household. 

Responsibilities of Recipients of the Benefit

If eligible for the emergency cash assistance, you must agree to the following: 

  • Not quit a job
  • Not abuse drugs or alcohol
  • Take parenting classes if inexperienced 
  • Get vaccines for your child or ward
  • Look for job placements and train for a job 
  • Ensure your child or ward is going to school

How to Apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

You can apply for TANF online by looking national TANF map to find your resident state’s TANF information. You will find the website along with other information that will aid you with the application. The physical addresses are displayed on the state, so you can visit the closest TANF office. 

Documentation Needed for TANF

The following documents are needed when you apply for this benefit: 

  • Proof of US citizenship or valid immigration status 
  • Proof of household size. Examples include the birth certificates of children. 
  • Proof of pregnancy, if applicable
  • Proof of previous employment 

Some states may demand additional information during the application process.

What If Your Application Gets Rejected?

You can file an appeal if you disagree with the decision regarding why your application is rejected. You can contact your State TANF Director’s office and learn about how to forward an appeal.  

How Long Do You Have to Wait?

After applying for the benefit, your local TANF office will decide between 30 to 45 days. Whether approved or declined, you will be notified by phone, email, or mail. 

How Much Does TANF Pay?

The TANF agency in your resident state decides the amount of grant funds you will receive every month. This is dependent on your family size. A family of 3 will receive an average of $700 monthly. This amount is subject to increase or decrease in your resident state. 

How Long Does TANF Last?

States set the time limit for how long you will continue to receive cash assistance. However, most of them will provide assistance for up to 60 months. Some states may exceed the time limit, depending on the nature of the hardship of the family. 

How to Apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
You can apply for TANF online by looking national TANF map to find your resident state’s TANF information.

Financial Help When You Need It the Most

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a cash benefit created to aid struggling households with their finances. It is designed to lower your financial burden so you can save and invest in other areas of your daily life. 

Remember that requirements for this emergency cash assistance vary from state to state. Ensure you contact your local TANF office to know your eligibility and the documentation required to claim the credit. 

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