If you have a child and you’re in financial need, you may have wondered how to apply for TANF cash help. This program, formally known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, provides cash assistance to help low income families afford child care, job preparation or other expenses.
What is TANF cash help?
This program provides financial assistance and supportive services to low income families. Supportive services may include child care assistance, job preparation, work assistance and more.
Am I eligible for TANF?
In order to qualify for this program, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be pregnant OR responsible for a child under age 19.
- You must be a US national, citizen, legal alien or permanent resident. If you are an immigrant, you must have lived in the united states for at least five years in most cases.
- You must have a low or very low income.
- You must be unemployed, under-employed (working for very low wages or hours) or about to become unemployed.
These are the rules for the federal TANF cash help program. Specific states may have additional requirements that you will need to meet in order to receive benefits. Each state can also choose which benefits it will provide under this program.
How can I apply for TANF cash help?
It is a federal program, but it is administered by local states. In order to find your local state agency, you will need to find your local state agency in charge of the program.
Is there anything else I need to know?
Before you apply, you need to understand how the TANF cash help program operates. The federal government gives grant money to the states, who determine how to spend it. They have to spend it on something that aligns with the program’s goals, but they do not necessarily have to distribute it as cash to needy families. That means in some areas, TANF is grossly underfunded because states use the money to fund other projects and programs.
Do not expect to get a windfall from this program, either. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, “TANF benefit levels are low and do not enable families to meet their basic needs. In almost every state, they leave a family of three below half the poverty line.”
This program also has a time limit. Under federal rules, an adult recipient cannot receive TANF cash help for more than 60 months in their lifetime unless the state uses a waiver. States are allowed to extend that time limit for up to 20% of their caseload if they can demonstrate a significant hardship. There is no time for child-only families with no adults receiving benefits.