The Arizona Cash Assistance Program is one of the most common ways for low-income families in the state of Arizona to receive financial aid. The Arizona Cash Assistance Program is often used interchangeably with the Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF), as they are one and the same. For this reason, many people get confused about what kind of benefits it provides, who qualifies, how to apply, and what restrictions exist. So, in this comprehensive guide we will explain everything you need to know about the Arizona Cash Assistance Program!
What is the Arizona Cash Assistance Program?
Many states have their own names and programs that fall under the umbrella of TANF; the Arizona Cash Assistance Program — often abbreviated to Arizona CA — is the TANF cash benefits program for Arizona residents. If you’re familiar with TANF, you already know that it is designed to provide temporary cash benefits to low-income families. This cash is most often deposited to an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card that can be used to withdraw cash from ATMs and pay for essentials like food, clothing, rent, and utilities. While the funds can be used for general purposes, they are usually meant to provide cash benefits for basic needs that you cannot meet using your own income or assets.
Who is eligible?
This is where things get a little bit tricky. The Arizona Cash Assistance Program is only meant to provide a monthly stipend to families with limited income. More specifically, you are only eligible for Arizona CA if you meet the following requirements:
- Resident of Arizona
- U.S. citizen or qualifying alien
- Unemployed or underemployed
- *Have a household income that is no more than 100% or 130% of the federal poverty level for families in Arizona (this requirement varies depending on your specific circumstances)
- You have a child or legal dependent who is 18 years or younger or you are 18 years or younger and the head of your household
*Non-parent heads of households may have an income up to 130% of the federal poverty level when requesting Cash Assistance specifically for a minor dependent; all other applicants cannot have an income that exceeds 100% of the federal poverty level.
For example, if you are a parent and the head of household with a family of four, your household income cannot exceed $2,871 per month to qualify for the Arizona Cash Assistance Program (as of October 1st, 2021).
How much cash assistance does the program offer?
Assuming that you qualify for Arizona CA, the monthly payment you will receive will vary based on your income, family size, type of family relations (parent vs. non-parent), and perhaps most importantly, your housing situation. There are two different payment standards you can get from the Arizona Cash Assistance Program: A1 or A2. If you have shelter costs (rent, mortgage, etc), you qualify for A1, which offers higher payments to help cover essential costs related to renting or owning property (including taxes). Alternatively, if you do not have shelter costs, you can only qualify for a smaller payment.
For example, if you are a family of four with shelter costs, you can qualify for payments up to $335 per month (as of October 1st, 2021). However, a family of the same size that does not have shelter costs would qualify for a monthly payment of $211. In Arizona, you can receive payments through the Arizona Cash Assistance Program for no more than 12 months, making it one of the shortest TANF time limits in the country.
How do I apply?
If you qualify and you are ready to apply for the Arizona Cash Assistance Program, you essentially have three options:
- Apply online through the Health-e-Arizona state government portal
- Download an application and submit it to your nearby DES or Family Assistance Administration office
- Request the application form at your local DES or Family Assistance Administration office and fill it out in person
You will need to provide some basic information related to you, your family, your housing, your income, and your household assets. Keep in mind that the application itself is rather long, so you will need to give yourself ample time to fill it out. Additionally, you should have important documents related to housing, income, and identity of all family members ready.
Helpful Arizona Cash Assistance Program resources
Just figuring out if you qualify for Cash Assistance in Arizona can be one of the biggest hurdles. Then you have to fill out all the paperwork and provide the right information to start receiving your benefits. After that, you must learn how the system works in Arizona to know how long you can expect your benefits to last. Arizona only allows applicants to receive up to 12 months of Cash Assistance, but you could get less if your employment status, housing status, or household income suddenly changes.
In short, the Arizona Cash Assistance Program can get complicated. Therefore, it’s important to have as many resources as possible at your disposal. This way you can begin the process knowing exactly what to expect and how to proceed. Below you will find some of the most vital resources to help make the entire process just a little bit easier:
- Arizona Department of Economic Stability (Income Eligibility Guidelines)
- Benefits.gov (General Cash Assistance Information)
- Health-e-Arizona Plus (Application Process)
The Bottom Line
As you can see, there are a lot of different variables to consider when applying for Cash Assistance in the state of Arizona. Not only will you need to determine if your household is considered “needy” by the state government, but you will also need to ensure that you meet a number of different criteria. Moreover, maintaining Cash Assistance may require you to submit further paperwork along the way, especially if you have any changes in your employment status or household income.
We hope you found this guide on the Arizona Cash Assistance Program useful! For further questions, feel free to reach out directly or read one of our other guides for more low-income programs, benefits, and money-saving tips. Also, remember to check out our guide on Free Help in Arizona!