Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) – What You Need to Know
(ModernSurvival.org) – No one wants to live in a low-income situation, constantly fighting to make ends meet. Unfortunately, for 37 million Americans, this is the reality they wake to each day. The government is constantly striving to better the lives of its citizens through various federal assistance programs.
One such program that aims to help Americans reach financial independence is Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). TANF was created in 1996 to provide financial assistance to qualifying households.
At its core, the TANF program was designed to assist parents with financial struggles. This includes single mothers and fathers, married couples, and even some grandparents. In addition to TANF, other options are available to qualifying households, such as Medicaid, SNAP, housing subsidies, and childcare services.
What Does TANF Do?
Congress created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program as part of the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. TANF aims to provide financial assistance to families and individuals with limited resources.
The funding for TANF is provided to states and territories through block grants. States must then use these funds to assist eligible applicants in meeting their basic needs. The funding can also be used for other social welfare programs such as health care, education, job training, and childcare.
Do You Qualify for TANF?
Two types of people may qualify for TANF assistance:
Eligible children are considered any individual under the age of 18 who meets the following requirements:
- Has not reached 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 not lived with either biological parent for more than six months consecutively because of separation or divorce
If you’re over 18 years of age, you may still qualify for TANF if:
- Have a low or very low source of income
- Are unemployed or underemployed
- Are citizens of the U.S. or legal and qualified aliens
- Are residents of the state in which they apply for this benefit program
On top of the above requirements, you could also qualify for temporary funding if you:
- Are pregnant
- Have a child aged 18 or younger
- Are 18 years or younger and the head of the household
TANF does exclude specific individuals from participation in the program. Some elements or acts are considered automatic disqualifications. These include:
- Refusing to work
- Felony convictions for particular offenses
- Violation of parole or probation
- Receiving TANF funding for a cumulative total of five years
- Pursuing child support enforcement
- Lying in your application
Because TANF is considered a work program, individuals who fall in the following categories are generally ineligible:
- 60-years-old or above
- Veterans receiving disability payments from the Veterans Administration
- A parent taking care of a child under one-year-old
- Already receiving Social Security Disability payments or Supplemental Security Income from the Social Security Administration
What Does TANF Offer?
The TANF program offers three primary forms of financial assistance:
1. Temporary Financial Aid
TANF provides financial help with paying for food, clothing, shelter, utilities, medical bills, transportation costs, and other expenses that may arise during an emergency.
2. Transitional Assistance
TANF’s transitional assistance reduces the need for financially unsound families to depend on society and become a burden. To this end, TANF promotes responsibility by offering vocational training, language skills, rehab, post-secondary education, GED preparation, and more.
3. Proper Support for Serious Issues
In addition to the financial support offered by TANF, the program also aims to help those facing serious issues such as drug abuse, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, etc.
How To Apply for the TANF Program
There are a few ways to apply for the TANF program, including over the phone, online, or at your local community services office.
Applying Over The Phone
To apply for TANF benefits by phone, you must first determine your area’s Department of Human Services (DHS) number. The contact information varies from state to state. You can find your state’s contact information on this map (click here).
You can apply for TANF online by visiting the DHS website. The process is free and easy to use. Here’s what to do:
- Go to the Department of Health & Human Services official website.
- Click on the “Apply Now” button near the bottom of the page.
- Enter your information into the fields provided.
- Verify your answers are accurate and submit your application.
Applying At Your Local Community Services Office
The final option available to you is applying in person or through the mail at your local community services office. Print off and fill out as much of the application information for your state as possible. Once this is done, you can mail it or deliver it to your local office. The DHS Office Locator can help you determine where to go.
If you or someone you know is suffering financial hardship, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Governmental assistance is available to get you back on your feet and help you become financially stable.
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