Learn About TANF Benefits

TANF benefits are provided by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This government-funded welfare program is administered on a state level to assist the poorest of families across America. With TANF, families living within poverty can receive cash assistance, job preparation and other notable benefits. 

By reviewing TANF benefits by family size, you will gain a better idea of how benefits are determined, and when a benefits calculator may be available. Furthermore, it is essential that you learn how long you may receive benefits and how your state will help determine these factors as well as the eligibility requirements you must meet for benefits. 

You can learn more about TANF benefits by reviewing the sections below. Here, you can find everything that you need to know about the TANF program and the benefits that you may receive before submitting your application. 

Learn How TANF Benefits Aid Families Living in Poverty

TANF benefits provide invaluable assistance to the neediest of families within the United States. The TANF program was designed to accomplish the following four goals: 

  1. To assist families in need so that children may be cared for and raised within their own homes or the homes of a close relative. 
  2. To end the dependency of needy parents on federal and state benefit programs by promoting marriage, job preparation and work. 
  3. To reduce and prevent out-of-wedlock pregnancies as well as establish goals for reducing or avoiding such pregnancies. 
  4. To encourage and aid in the formation and overall maintenance of two-parent families

Qualifying families receive monetary benefits that can be used on qualifying household expenses, including housing, utility, food and clothing costs. The program also provides several non-monetary benefits, including job preparation and childcare services. 

Learn About TANF Benefits by Family Size

TANF benefits are primarily determined by a family’s size. However, factors such as a family’s income and the presiding state will also determine the amount of assistance a family can receive. 

The specific benefits and services that are offered by a state vary between states. While financial assistance is a crucial TANF benefit, your family could qualify for additional benefits such as: 

  • Services to help you and your family become more independent, including vocational training, vocational rehabilitation, GED preparation and postsecondary education. 
  • Screening for problems concerning mental health, substance abuse or domestic violence. 
  • Referrals to other services that a family may qualify for. 
  • Childcare assistance. 

Many states also offer a TANF benefits calculator to assist families in determining the amount of benefits that they will likely qualify for. These calculators are typically provided online, but local TANF offices may also be able to give a rough estimate. However, it is crucial that you understand that, once approved for benefits, your awarded amount may differ from any estimate received through a benefits calculator. 

How and when will I receive my TANF benefits?

If you are wondering, “How long does it take to get TANF benefits?” then it is essential that you contact your state office to determine your state’s waiting period. However, there are several steps that you can take to reduce your wait and begin receiving assistance. 

When submitting a TANF application for the first time, you will be asked to provide several documents and pieces of information. Without these documents and information, your application may be denied or delayed. Depending on your situation, documents and information that you may need to provide include: 

  • Proof of income for everyone who works within your household. 
  • Information regarding your financial institution. 
  • Proof of your immigration or citizenship status. 

Your TANF benefits will not begin until you can provide your caseworker with everything that they need to process your application. The sooner you can meet documentation and information requirements, the sooner you will begin to receive benefits. 

Cash assistance will be provided to you either through an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card or through direct deposit depending on your state program and personal preferences. Benefits will be deposited onto your card or your account on the same date each month. 

How long can I receive TANF benefits? 

Once your TANF benefits by family size have been determined and your eligibility has been verified, you will begin to receive cash assistance and/or other benefits. By federal law, the maximum amount of time that you may receive cash assistance is 60 months (five years). This five-year limit is a lifetime limit (excluding children under the age of 18) and regardless of what states you receive benefits within. 

However, there are several variances for TANF benefits by state, as nearly half of all states have reduced the lifetime limit to a period that is less than five years. Therefore, it is crucial that you check with your state program to determine your state program’s lifetime limit. 

In some cases, a family can qualify for TANF beyond the state or federal limit. However, exceptions may vary by state program. You may be eligible for a more extended period of TANF cash assistance if you or another adult within your family: 

  • Are determined to be disabled and limited or unable to work.
  • Are in an approved education or training program that will finish shortly after the state or federal time limit. 
  • Have a disabled child that is qualified for a waiver. 

Learn About Continued Requirements for TANF Benefits

After determining your TANF benefits by family size and qualifying for cash assistance, it is essential that you learn more about continued eligibility requirements. Continued eligibility is qualifications that your family must continue to meet while receiving benefits through the TANF program.

Should your family fail to meet these requirements, your benefit amounts will be reduced or you could lose benefits entirely. While these requirements may vary by state, they typically include:

  • Meeting work requirements.
  • Reporting changes to income, household size or expenses. 
  • Reporting changes to your contact information. 
  • Ensuring that your children attend school. 

Understanding the Differences in TANF Benefits by State

Understanding the differences in TANF benefits by state will help you to determine your eligibility, benefit amounts and other key differences between state programs. While states administer TANF under federal guidelines, each state program can determine critical factors, including: 

  • Income limits and other eligibility requirements. 
  • Max benefit limits. 
  • Assistance amount. 
  • Continued eligibility requirements. 
  • How benefits are provided. 

Therefore, it is essential that you learn more about your state program.