What You Need to Know about Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Hitting Hard Times? It Might Be Time To Look At TANF Benefits

(DailyDig.com) – Nobody wishes to grow up or live in a needy or low-income condition. But unfortunately, that is the reality of life for 37 million Americans today. Notably, though, the government has always been at the forefront of reducing poverty levels and bettering the lives of its citizens through various federal assistance programs.

One such program is the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). TANF was created in 1996 to provide financial assistance to households that meet specific eligibility requirements.

Essentially, the program is designed to help parents struggling financially. This includes single mothers, single fathers, married couples, and even some grandparents. In addition, there are other programs available to those who qualify. These include Medicaid, food stamps, housing subsidies, and child care services.

This article provides you with information on the purpose of the TANF program, who qualifies, what it offers, and how to apply.

What is the Purpose of the TANF program?

Congress established the TANF program as part of the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. Its goal is to provide financial support to individuals and families who need assistance because they have limited resources.

These funds are usually provided to states and territories through block grants. States must use these funds to assist eligible applicants in meeting their basic needs. They may also be used to fund other social welfare programs such as health care, education, job training, and childcare.

Who Qualifies for TANF?

There are two types of people who can receive benefits under this program:

1. Children

Eligible children include any individual under age 18 who meets one of the following criteria:

  • Has not attained 19 years of age (or has attained 19 years and is a full-time student)
  • Is pregnant or has given birth within the past 12 months
  • Has at least one parent physically or mentally incapacitated
  • Has had at least one parent die
  • Has experienced the death of another immediate family member
  • Has lived apart from both biological parents for more than six consecutive months due to parental separation or divorce

2. Adults

Individuals over age 18 who meet the following conditions may be eligible to apply for TANF funding:

  • Are citizens of the U.S. or legal and qualified aliens
  • Are residents of the state in which they apply for this benefit program
  • Are unemployed or underemployed
  • Have a low or very low source of income

On top of the above requirements, you could also qualify for temporary funding if you:

  • Have a child aged 18 or younger
  • Are 18 years or younger and the head of the household
  • Are pregnant

It is also fair that we cover some elements or acts that will render you automatically disqualified for the TANF program. You may not be eligible for the benefits program if you:

  • Are a convicted felon for specific offenses
  • Have refused to work
  • Have violated your probation or parole
  • Have received TANF funding for a cumulative total of five years
  • Have pursued child support enforcement
  • Have lied in your application

And since TANF is deemed a work program, you shouldn’t bother to apply if you:

  • Are 60 years or older
  • Are a veteran receiving disability payments from the Veteran’s Administration
  • Are a parent taking care of a child under one-year-old
  • Already receives Social Security Disability payments or Supplemental Security Income from the Social Security Administration

What does the TANF program Offer?

The TANF program offers three primary financial aids to qualifying needy families. These include:

1. Temporary Financial Help

This form of aid provides money to help with basic needs, such as paying for food, clothing, shelter, utilities, medical bills, transportation costs, and other expenses that arise during times of emergency.

2. Transitional Assistance

TANF designed this assistance to reduce the need for financially-deprived people depending on the society and becoming burdensome. So its primary goal is to promote responsibility across the board. How so? The transitional assistance comes in vocational training, language skills, rehab, post-secondary education, GED preparation, and more.

3. Proper Support with Serious Issues

In addition to providing financial assistance, the TANF program also aims to provide proper support to individuals facing serious issues like drug abuse, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, etc.

How Do I Apply for the TANF program?

Applying for TANF benefits is pretty straightforward, and there are a few ways to do so. You can apply online, by phone, or via your local community services office.

Applying Online

You can apply for TANF online at the Department of Human Services website. It’s free and easy to use. Just follow these steps:

  • Go to the official site of the Department of Health & Human Services.
  • Click on “Apply Now” at the bottom of the page.
  • Enter your information into the fields provided.
  • Review your answers and submit your application.

Applying By Phone

If you prefer, you can call the DHS directly for directions to apply. The numbers vary from one state to another. For instance, if you’re an Illinois resident, you can call the helpline (800) 843-6154 or teletypewriter (800) 447-6404.

Applying Through Your Local Community Services Office

You can also apply via your local community services office by printing and filling out as much application information from your state as possible then submitting the form in-person or by mail. If you have no clue where the nearest office is in your state or territory, you can use this DHS Office Locator for direction.

Wrapping It Up

So there you have it! We hope this guide has helped you learn everything you need to know about applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF). In a quick recap, here are the key takeaways:

  • The TANF program offers temporary financial relief to eligible low-income families.
  • The program provides temporary cash assistance, which helps pay for food, housing, utilities, health care, child care, and other necessities. The program also provides transitional assistance aimed at lower dependency while encouraging responsibility. Last but not least, TANF supports individuals facing serious challenges like domestic violence and mental illnesses.
  • The TANF benefits are intended to be short-term, usually lasting only up to five years.
  • To qualify, you must meet various eligibility requirements, such as being a U.S. citizen or a legal alien, having low or very low income, and more.
  • Applying for TANF is simple and free. All you need to do is apply online, via phone, or through your local community service office by printing and filling out an application and faxing it or sending it through the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Once you’ve filled out the application, you’ll receive a decision within 30 days. If approved, you’ll start receiving funding within two weeks.
  • Remember, if you’re currently receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Medicare, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, or any other government benefit, you cannot receive TANF benefits at the same time.

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