Temporary Assistance: TANF

It comes as no surprise that the economy is not in its best condition. Many people are trying hard to make ends meet. The federal government understands this, which is why they designed many programs to assist financially struggling people. There are a few different assistance options to choose from. Government assistance programs can provide relief for American households and qualifying immigrants with housing, education, healthcare, and much more.

It can be challenging when you start looking for the programs that could help you and the programs you are eligible for. Fortunately, the federal government helped with that, too. Benefits.gov is a website that highlights almost all government assistance programs. Additionally, the website asks you a few questions to help you figure out the options that you are eligible for using their Benefit Finder.

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is an important federal assistance program that helps eligible households across the United States.

What is The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program?

The federal government designed the TANF Program, however, states are in charge of managing the program. According to the government website, the TANF Program “provides approximately $16.5 billion to states, the District of Columbia, and US territories (Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico). Federally-recognized American Indian tribes and Alaska Native organizations may offer TANF through the tribal TANF program.”

State governments are in charge of managing the TANF program. This means that each state government is responsible for deciding the number of benefits that beneficiaries receive, as well as the eligibility requirements to qualify for the program. The main aim of the TANF program is to help low-income households with kids to achieve independence and self-sufficiency. To put it short, the TANF program works to help families across the United States get back on their feet and remain stable in every way without needing assistance from others.

How The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program Operates

The TANF program is not as cut and dry as you’d think. The federal government will not simply offer cash handouts to low-income households with kids. On the other hand, state governments will use their TANF grants to provide cash assistance to those said households. In addition, that grant fund will go to offering services that are created for people to reach self-sufficiency, as mentioned earlier. The main aim of the TANF program can be summarized in the following four points:

  • Assist kids to grow up in their own homes or in their relatives’ homes
  • End the parents’ reliability on government benefits through the encouragement of job preparation, employment, and marriage
  • Decrease the rate of pregnancies out-of-wedlock
  • Move forward with two-parent families’ development and stability

Applying For Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

Now that you know a bit more about the TANF program and its purposes, you should know how to apply for the program. To begin the application process, the first thing you need to do is reach out to your local Social Services office and/or your state’s TANF office. We suggest that you take some time to look through the program before you apply to make sure you avoid any misunderstandings or postponements. The application is also free of charge.

Eligibility For the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program

It is important to keep in mind that although the federal government created the TANF program, it is the states’ responsibility. This means that your local state government is in charge of all the decisions on TANF benefits and eligibility. Additionally, this means that eligibility for the TANF program in one state can differ from another state’s TANF eligibility. One thing is for sure: low-income households with kids are the main focus of the TANF program. Generally, there are two requirements you need to meet to receive TANF benefits which are:

  • The program will only help low-income households
  • Typically, the household needs to include one or more children who are under 18 years old.

Since there is limited funding that is distributed to each state for the TANF program, the federal government must make sure that the right target group gets these benefits. Additionally, the federal government needs to make sure that the financial assistance they provide is helping the development of those specific households. This is why there is an eligibility requirement that could make applicants ineligible from getting benefits through the TANF program. On the other hand, eligibility requirements vary from one state to another.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Work Restrictions

The main idea of the TANF program is to serve as a work program. This means that the program provides assistance for its applicants to find good jobs. Additionally, the TANF program serves to improve the skills of the families until they reach self-sufficiency. This is why applicants who are able but do not want to look for work may be ineligible to get TANF benefits. Working or trying to work is an important condition to get your TANF benefits, but there are some exceptions to that rule. Some states, such as the State of Pennsylvania, have designed scenarios where applicants can get TANF benefits while not working such as:

  • If he or she is raising a child that is one year old or younger, then they are exempt from the work condition.
  • Single parents who cannot find the suitable childcare for kids under 6 years old and do not have employment to get a check.
  • Individuals that are under 22 years old who are still in school or working on a GED.
  • People with physical or mental illnesses that limit them from working.
  • Individuals that are taking care of dependents with disabilities.

What are the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program Work Requirements?

The federal government’s goal when designing the TANF program was to keep maintaining households with kids and working parents. This is why state governments must meet Work Participation Rates (WPR) goals or they could face penalties.

WPR calculates the amount of work-eligible beneficiaries through the TANF program. There are two measures for the WPR: an all-families rate or a two-parent families’ rate. A state government needs to achieve at least 50% of households getting TANF benefits to be working for at least 30 hours per week. Single parents with kids under six years old are expected to work for at least 20 hours per week. The second WPR measure is the two-parent families’ rate, where two-parent households are expected to work for at least 35 hours per week. Every state government is required to reach a 90% two-parent families’ work rate to keep its TANF funding.

It can be a little confusing when you start to look for the definition of “working hours.” Supposedly, there are 12 categories of work, according to a law created in 1996. There is a limit to how many hours can be assigned to each category. For instance, you can only count a particular amount of hours looking for jobs as “activity hours.” Additionally, participating in education and training does not often count as a full-time activity.

Sanctions of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program

A TANF recipient needs to work to get TANF benefits. This is why in some cases, the federal government may force a state to stop the benefits from recipients who do not want to work without a good reason. The main issue is that most state governments lead to “full family sanctions” which means that if the parent does not want to work, then the whole household loses its TANF benefits.

Bottom Line

If you feel like money is a challenge and things are getting harder every day–you are not alone. The economy has been facing a lot of ups and downs recently. Some people resort to getting loans from private lenders, however, what if you do not qualify for a loan? In that case, the federal government can help out with their website benefits.gov. Here, you can find several programs that best fit your and your family’s needs.

This article discussed the TANF program at length, including how to apply and how to qualify. If you need any information about the TANF program, then you should concentrate on getting in touch with your local social services offices. If you are ready, then you should start your application!