Am I eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families ? How do I apply for the TANF?
The federal government provides monthly payments and other forms of assistance for low-income families. How can you claim the financial support?
The federal government provides financial support for low-income households across the country through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
The scheme also covers various support services designed to ensure that families are not left behind, including job preparation support, work assistance and help with childcare. The Office of Family Assistance lists one of the program’s key goals as to “provide assistance to needy families so that children can be cared for in their own homes or in the homes of relatives.”
The exact programs on offer from the TANF varies between states because although the funding come from the federal government the system is administered at a state and local level. Here’s how to find out what you could be entitled to in your state…
Who is eligible for TANF support?
To be eligible for the support offered by the TANF you must be a resident of the state in which you are applying. You must also be a US citizen, or have legal alien or qualified alien status.
The exact thresholds can vary between states but the claimant must be unemployed or underemployed, meaning that although they have a job it does not offer sufficient hours or rate of pay. Recipients of TANF must also have a low or very low household income.
The support is specifically designed for families so recipients of TANF payments must have a child aged 18 years old or younger or be pregnant. Alternatively, individuals aged 18 or younger who are also the head of the household can also claim the support.
How to apply for TANF payments and support
As mentioned the TANF support is organised at a local level, meaning that it is up to state, territorial and tribe authorities to adjudge eligibility for the payments. The monthly payments will also be distributed by the local authorities.
To find out how to apply for the support in your area, check out the TANF Programs by State help page on the Office of Family Assistance website. Simply select your region on the map for details on how to apply for the payments online, in person, by mail or over the telephone.
There are also contact details for your local authority's office if you need to ask for advice or request further information before submitting your claim.
A report published last year by the Congressional Research Service found that 2.6 million recipients benefitted from TANF support in 2020, with $16.5 billion put aside by the federal government to fund the program. Make sure you don't miss out on the support payments that your family may be entitled to.