Everything You Need to Know about Qualifying for TANF

(Daily360.com) – Living in a low-income household comes with quite a number of challenges. That is daily life for more than 37 million Americans. Fortunately, the government has created several programs to help reduce poverty levels and improve the quality of life for its citizens.

One of the best programs for struggling families is the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Created in 1996, TANF is designed to help provide financial assistance to families that meet their eligibility requirements.

This program is aimed at helping parents who are dealing with financial insecurity. This includes married couples, single mothers and fathers, and grandparents or custodial guardians. Other programs are available to these families, including SNAP, housing subsidies, Medicaid, and child care services.

Keep reading to learn more bout the purpose of TANF, how to qualify, and how to apply.

What Does the TANF Program Do?

Congress established the TANF program as part of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. Its goal is to provide financial support to families and individuals facing financial, food, and housing insecurity.

These funds are provided to states and territories through block grants. States then use these funds to help eligible applicants meet their basic financial needs. They distribute these funds to welfare programs to provide education, job training, health care, and education.

Who Qualifies for TANF?

Both children and adults can qualify for this program. Keep reading to find out more.


Individuals aged 18 and older will qualify for TANF funding if they meet the following eligibility requirements.

  • You must be a U.S. Citizen or a qualified resident alien.
  • You must reside in the state you apply for benefits in.
  • You must be underemployed or unemployed.
  • You must have income below a certain level.

Additionally, you can receive benefits if you:

  • Have a child younger than 18 years old.
  • Are 18 years old or younger and are the head of your household.
  • If you are pregnant.


Children under the age of 18 will be eligible for TANF funding if they:

  • Are 19 years old or younger and a full-time student
  • Are pregnant or have given birth in the past 12 months
  • Has lost a parent to or has a parent who suffers from mental or physical disabilities.
  • Has lived apart from their parents for more than six months due to separation or divorce.
  • You should also be aware of some acts that will make you automatically ineligible for TANF even if you meet all the requirements. These include:
  • If you have refused work.
  • If you are a convicted felon
  • If you have violated your parole or probation
  • If you have pursued child support enforcement
  • If you lied in your application
  • If you have already received TANF funding for five cumulative years.

Additionally, TANF is considered a work program, so if you cannot work for the following reasons, you may be ineligible.

  • If you are 60 years or older
  • If you are an unemployed parent taking care of a child under one year of age
  • If you are a veteran receiving disability payments
  • If you accept Social Security Disability payments or other supplemental income.

TANF Program Features

TANF offers three primary programs to eligible families. They are:

1. Temporary Financial Help

This program provides money to help with basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, utilities, medical bills, transportation, and other expenses.

2. Transitional Assistance

This program’s primary goal is to promote responsibility. Transitional assistance includes vocational training, language skills, rehab, post-secondary education, GED preparation, and more.

3. Proper Support with Serious Issues

TANF also supports individuals facing severe issues like drug abuse, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, etc.

How Do I Apply for the TANF program?

Applying for TANF benefits is pretty straightforward, and there are a few ways to do so. You can apply online, by phone, or via your local community services office.

Wrapping It Up

We hope this guide has helped you learn everything you need about the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The key takeaways include:

The TANF program offers temporary financial relief to eligible low-income families.

The program provides temporary cash assistance. The program also offers transitional services for struggling families. TANF supports individuals facing severe challenges like domestic violence and mental illnesses.

The TANF benefits usually last only up to five years.

To qualify, you must meet various eligibility requirements, such as being a U.S. citizen or a legal alien, having a low income, and more.

Applying for TANF is simple and free. You can apply online, via phone, or through your local community service office by printing and filling out an application.

Once you’ve filled out the application, you’ll receive a decision within 30 days. If approved, you’ll typically start receiving funding within two weeks.

Remember, if you’re currently receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Medicare, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, or any other government benefit, you cannot receive TANF benefits simultaneously.

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