Apply For Maine TANF

This page provides the Maine TANF eligibility requirements. Applicants must meet both state and federal guidelines for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Individuals who apply for TANF must meet the monetary and non-monetary state guidelines, complete work-related activities, provide paternity information about the children in the household and report as required by the state.

Maine residents who qualify for welfare are required to furnish information such as citizenship, income, resources, and age. Only household members who are eligible can receive Maine welfare benefits. Read on for more information about applying for TANF. If you have additional questions or issues about this program, then contact TANF Maine.

What is TANF & ASPIRE?

TANF stands for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. It is a cash benefit for families with minor children in their home. In order to get TANF you must meet certain eligibility rules. You must show that your child is deprived (see pages 2-4), that you have very low income, and you must take part in the ASPIRE program, unless you have good cause not to.

ASPIRE stands for Additional Support for People in Retraining and Employment. It is the education, training, and work program that most parents getting TANF must do.

TANF-ASPIRE is run by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). People in TANF-ASPIRE typically have two DHHS caseworkers: one is a Family Independence Specialist and the other is an ASPIRE Specialist.

Family Independence Specialist
It is important to report changes in who lives in your home, address changes if you move, and income changes to your Family Independence Specialist. Your Family Independence Specialist will also determine if you are eligible for Food Supplements, MaineCare, and Transitional Benefits.

ASPIRE Specialist
Your ASPIRE Specialist will work with you to decide the best way for you to be in the ASPIRE program and will help you create and change, when necessary, your Family Contract. (See page 12 for more information about your Family Contract.)


Applying for TANF

You may apply for TANF in person at your local DHHS office or you may apply online through My Maine Connection, located at https://www1.maine.gov/benefi ts/account/login.html.cIf you apply on-line, you will still need to do a face-to-face interview with an Family Independence Specialist as part of the application process.

TANF applicants must also attend an ASPIRE orientation meeting before their application will be processed. An orientation meeting is usually held at your local DHHS Office. It can be held at a diff erent location if you have a good reason such as lack of transportation or child care. It may be held at an applicant's home or some other place. Talk to the worker at the face-to-face interview if attending the orientation meeting is going to be a problem.

Victims of domestic violence who fear that participation in an orientation meeting could result in physical or emotional harm to a child or other family member may have their TANF application processed without the parent having to attend an orientation meeting. Domestic violence victims may choose to participate in an orientation meeting if they wish.


TANF and "Deprivation"

To get TANF you must have one or more minor children that live with you. Your child(ren) must be "deprived" of the care and support of at least one parent. This means that:


Single-Parent Homes

If you are a single parent, you can get TANF if the absent parent does not play a major role in the maintenance, care, and guidance of the child. In other words if you provide most of the care and you do most of the decision making for your child, you will probably be able to get TANF.

However, if the absent parent sees the child a lot, helps make major decisions about the child, or otherwise plays a major role in the child's life, then you may not be able to get TANF. Having "sole custody" or "sole parental rights" from a Court does not mean that you automatically can get TANF.

If you have "joint custody" or "shared parental rights" you may still be able to get TANF. In this case, you will be eligible if you clearly have more responsibility for raising your child than the other parent does. This decision is not just based on the amount of time that the child spends in each home. It is also based on the amount of responsibility each parent takes for raising the child.


Two-Parent Homes

If both parents live together with their children, they may still be able to get TANF. There are two TANF programs that can help. One helps when one parent is "disabled" or "incapacitated." The other program is for households where parents are unemployed or not working full-time.

1. TANF for Disabled or Incapacitated Parents (TANF Incapacity)
If one parent in the home is physically or mentally unable to fully support or care for a child, then deprivation may exist. Getting Social Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability, Railroad Retirement Disability, or MaineCare based on disability will be accepted as proof of disability or incapacity.

But you do not need to be on one of these programs to show that you are incapacitated or disabled. You can get TANF even if you are only partly disabled. For example, if a parent is in an accident, or has a temporary illness, and cannot work or care for the children at least 20 hours a week for two or three months, the parent would probably be considered "incapacitated."

2. TANF for Unemployed or Underemployed Parents (TANF-UP)
First you must determine which of the parents has had the most earnings in the last two years. If that parent got Unemployment Benefi ts within the past year, you may qualify for TANF-UP. If not, a parent will qualify if he or she earned at least $50 in 6 of the last 13 calendar quarters.

A parent can be working and still get TANF-UP. The parent must have worked less than 100 hours in the last 30 days and must expect to work less than 130 hours per month in the months ahead. If the person goes over the 100 or 130 hour limits, but it was temporary, then that is okay.

A calendar quarter is the time from: January 1 through March 31; April 1 through June 30; July 1 through September 30; and October 1 through December 31.

Any type of work counts, including self-employment, babysitting, lawn care, or a regular job with an employer. You will just need some way to prove what you earned — deposit slips, copies of checks, or even a written statement from the person that you did the work for. You can also count as “work” any quarter that you were in the ASPIRE Program.

If you have been unemployed for some time and don’t qualify by counting 6 of the last 13 quarters, you may still be eligible. Please call us for more information.


How Much Will My TANF Benefit Be?

The amount of TANF you can get depends on several things:


DHHS will disregard the following amounts from your income:


Maine Employment Search

Part of the requirement, while on the TANF program, is finding a job to help sustain your financial needs. Maine provides an online job site for you to search for employment. You can view the job site by clicking here.


Apply Online For Maine TANF

If you have questions about applying for TANF benefits, or you want to see if you can apply for TANF Maine online, then visit the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families website here.