What Is TANF

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is federally funded but is administrated by each state. TANF is a financial assistance program for low income families that have children and for pregnant women in their last three months of pregnancy. The program provides temporary financial assistance while at the same time helps TANF recipients find jobs that will allow them to support themselves.

TANF Program Grants

In 1996 the TANF program replaced the old welfare programs which included the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program. Today TANF provides grants on a yearly basis to all U.S. states, tribal governments and territories. The funds from these grants help pay for benefits and services, which are then distributed by the states to assist needy families.

In order to continue to receive the annual TANF grants each state must show that they are operating their TANF program by assisting needy families so that children can be cared for in their own homes, reduce the dependency of parents being needy by assisting in job preparation as well as work and marriage, prevent out of wedlock pregnancies and encourage the formation and maintenance of two parent families.

TANF Time Limit

The TANF program is intended to provide temporary financial assistance while the TANF recipients seek employment that will allow them to fully support themselves and their families. Because of this, families who have received TANF benefits from this federally funded program for a total of five years, or less depending on the state guidelines, become ineligible for cash aid under the TANF program. States do have the option of extending federal benefits beyond 5 year limit and could also choose to provide extended assistance to families using state specific funds or other federal Social Services Block Grant funds available to the state.

Mainly though the limit to receive TANF benefits usually is a maximum of 5 years (or 60 months). As a single parent receiving TANF, you would be required to participate in qualified work activities for a minimum of 30 hours per week. In most cases, you would be expected to obtain employment immediately upon receiving assistance. Recipients of these benefits must be employed within 2 years. One of the primary goals of TANF was to increase work among welfare recipients as well as reducing out-of-wedlock births and increasing rates and stability of marriages.


What are the Requirements for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families?

Residents of the state they apply for this benefit must be US citizens, lawful aliens or eligible aliens. A low or meagre income and being unemployed or underemployed are both required. One of the preceding is required:
  • Having a son under the age of 18 or having a child.
  • Either be pregnant or
  • Be under the age of 18 and the head of your home to qualify for this benefit.
Residents of the state of Washington who have children or are pregnant. You have to meet the following conditions:
  • Income and Resource Requirements.
  • Citizenship and alien status requirements.

Income and resource Requirements:

Based on the size and income of your family, you might be eligible for TANF benefits to meet your specific needs. Monthly benefits for a family of three who have no income would be $654. We only consider half of a household member's wages against the grant when they begin working. Any new unearned income received by a family member will be deducted from the grant.   For eligibility for TANF, your family must hold $6,000 or less in resources.
  • Money in the form of banking accounts is an example of a resource.
  • Mutual funds, bonds, or stocks.
  • More than $10,000 in vehicle equity.
Your case manager's job is to explain what we consider in terms of income and resources and how that impacts your case.