Everything You Need to Know about the TANF Program (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)

(DailyVibe.com) – If you’re facing some financial struggles, it might be time for you to check out Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, also known as TANF. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families provides various types of financial aid to households in financial crisis. TANF is a federal financial assistance program depended upon by millions of Americans. TANF began in 1996, with an aim of providing financial assistance to households meeting select eligibility requirements.

More specifically, this program is designed to help parents who are struggling. That includes married couples, grandparents, single mothers, and single fathers. There are also other programs like Medicaid and food stamps which can help — and TANF is meant to assist in conjunction with those programs as well as child care services and housing subsidies.

Let’s take a look at whether you could qualify for TANF, and if so, how you can apply and what benefits you could receive.

In Depth: What is the TANF Program and Its Purpose?

The TANF program came to be as a part of the Welfare Reform act of 1996. The goal of the program is to provide some financial aid to families and individuals who have limited income and are in need.

TANF is federal funding that gets provided to states via grants. States then evaluate individuals and families and use the funds to help. So while the funding is federal, the state administers it. TANF funds also go towards helping with education, childcare, healthcare, and job training needs.

Do You Qualify For TANF?

TANF can benefit children and adults. Each has different criteria to qualify for the TANF program.

Children are under the age of 18 (and 19 year olds that are full time students) and must meet one of these criteria:

  • Have given birth in the past year or are currently pregnant
  • Has one or more parent that is mentally or physically incapacitated
  • Has lost at least one parent to death
  • Has lost another immediate family member (such as a sibling, or a grandparent that is a caretaker) to death
  • Has lived more than six consecutive months away from both of their biological parents due to a parental divorce or separation.

To qualify for TANF, adults must meet the following criteria.

  • Be a person over the age of 18
  • Are United States citizens, or qualified, legal aliens
  • Reside in the state where they’re applying for the TANF program
  • Are underemployed or unemployed
  • Qualify as low or very low income earners

In addition to these requirements, you might also qualify for TANF if you:

  • Are currently pregnant
  • Are 18 years of age or younger and are the head of your household
  • Have a child who is aged 18 or younger

What Typically Disqualifies TANF Applicants?

While the eligibility requirements are designed to help most very low income people, there are some things that will disqualify any individual from receiving benefits from the TANF program. They are:

  • 60 years of age or above
  • Currently receiving disability payments from the Veterans’ Administration (VA) as a veteran
  • Are a parent and taking care of a child under one year of age
  • Receiving Social Security Disability payments from the Social Security Administration, or Supplemental Security Income

This is often because there are other federal programs better qualified to help people in these situations, not because TANF is meant to be exclusionary. Additionally, if you refuse to work, have been convicted of specific felonies, have committed parole or probation violation, have gotten TANF already for five years cumulatively, have lied in your TANF application, or have pursued enforcement of child support, you are not eligible.

The TANF program provides temporary financial help, transitional assistance to help you get the job or language skills you need, and assistance with more serious issues such as addiction, domestic violence, and more. It’s broad enough to help you if you qualify.

To apply for TANF, start your application by applying online at the Department of Human Services website. If you do not have access to the internet, your local library will have the resources you need. You can also apply by phone at 800-843-6154.

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