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Temporary Assistance For Needy Families: Eligibility And Benefits

Updated : September 11th, 2020

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a program that provides temporary financial assistance to low-income families. The benefits can be used to pay food, medical, shelter, and utilities bills. TANF is also known as the Temporary Assistance (TA) program. 

Under the TANF program, the federal government provides grants to states provided states use their own income to pay for needy families

States have the discretion to determine the eligibility for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Here, let’s have a look at the eligibility criteria and working of the TANF program. 

Eligibility Criteria For Temporary Assistance For Needy Families

The requirements to qualify for the TANF program may vary with the states. Some of the common requirements are listed below.

  1. The applicant must be a U.S. citizen.
  2. The applicant must be a resident of a state in which the individual is applying for TANF program.
  3. If the claimant is a non-citizen, he/she must be admitted by law as a permanent resident.
  4. The applicant must have a child under age 19 living with him/her or must be pregnant.
  5. The applicant or his/her family members must have Social Security Number.
  6. The claimant must be unemployed or about to be unemployed.
  7. Claimant should actively look for a job or participate in a training program unless disabled.
  8. If the applicant has a dependent child, he/she must cooperate with child support requirements and paternity, unless he/she has a good cause for not cooperating.
  9. Claimant has a child under age 18 or age 18 living him/her and is a full-time student.
  10. Claimant’s resources such as bank accounts, property or bonds or property that is not your main/primary residence are of a value of $1,000 or less.
  11. The applicant must provide care and support for a child as a result of one of the following events:
    • Death of the child’s parent
    • Child’s parents do not have any income

    TANF Training Requirements

    If approved for TANF, the recipients are required to take part in employment and training programs conducted by the respective states. However, under certain circumstances, the recipients can exempt themselves from participating in the training activities. For instance, 

    • The recipient has a child aged less than 12 weeks.
    • The recipient is 60 years old and above.
    • The recipient is permanently disabled.
    • The recipient is giving care to the disabled.
    • There is a domestic violence situation and participating in employment and training activities would cause physical or emotional harm to the recipient or the children in the household.

    Recipients who do not meet exemption criteria must participate in employment and training activities for the minimum hours per federal month as required by the state. If the recipient does not participate in the training activities, the Temporary Assistance payment will be reduced.

    How Are Benefits Calculated?

    The payment is calculated based on several factors, such as the expenses associated with child care, the size of your household, etc. Here’s a list of amounts paid by each state for a family of three through a single payment.

    States Amount ($)/Month
    Alabama 215
    Alaska 923
    Arizona 278
    Arkansas 204
    California 785
    Colorado 508
    Connecticut 698
    Delaware 338
    D.C. 642
    Florida 303
    Georgia 280
    Hawaii 610
    Idaho 309
    Illinois 520
    Indiana 288
    Iowa 426
    Kansas 429
    Kentucky 262
    Louisiana 240
    Maine 594
    Maryland 709
    Massachusetts 633
    Michigan 492
    Minnesota 532
    Mississippi 170
    Missouri 292
    Montana 588
    Nebraska 468
    Nevada 386
    New Hampshire 1066
    New Jersey  559
    New Mexico 447
    New York 789
    North Carolina 272
    North Dakota 486
    Ohio 497
    Oklahoma 292
    Oregon 506
    Pennsylvania 421
    Rhode Island 554
    South Carolina 292
    South Dakota 615
    Tennessee 277
    Texas 295
    Utah 498
    Vermont 640
    Virginia 442
    Washington 569
    West Virginia 340
    Wisconsin 653
    Wyoming 697

    When Can The Applicant Expect The Benefits?

    If the application is approved, the applicant can expect the payment within 45 days of the submission of the application. The amount will be paid through Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Card or directly deposited to the bank account.

    How Long Can A Claimant Receive The Benefits?

    An applicant can collect TANF for a maximum of 60 months or 5 years over the course of his/her lifetime.

    How To Apply For TANF?

    You can apply for TANF benefits either online or at a local community service office. For instance, individuals at Washington can apply at

    Closing Thoughts

    Temporary Assistance for Needy Families offers much required financial aid and helps qualified people to meet their basic needs. To know more about this program, visit the state’s TANF website. 

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    1. I was approved for extended benefits after exhausting PUA and the 26 weeks UI in Ohio. I have been looking for work, but also have had major health challenges and am finding getting back to “normal” slow going. I have a EB approval letter, and am currently receiving payments. When I look at the EB payment stub it shows my payment amount, and then the remaining approved amount (diminished by the weekly payment). So… do I get to exhaust the balance stated (which would take the weekly payments into 2021), or do my extended benefit payments expire on Dec 26 with the Federal program?

    2. I’m considering moving from MA to another state to pursue available work. I CAN NOT get hold of a human or find any info online about the ramifications of transferring my residence. Is there any information available that I’m missing or anyone having gone through the process of moving while collecting unemployment?

    3. I accidentally filed my UI unemployment amount wrong. I wrote that I made 25k last year when it was more like 12k with the pandemic problems. The issue was that I included my student loans in my income amount. Now I’m concerned about it being audited and how to fix this. I know I will have to pay back an amount but this is a lot of stress. I cannot get ahold of anyone in a timely manner and so I am wondering if anyone has an idea as to how to fix this appropriately?

      1. Ashley,

        I suggest you check the “Resources” section of the official website of the Unemployment Office or consider the option of visiting an office in the vicinity if feasible.

    4. my benefit in missouri ru has exhausted they send me a letter about my peuc until dec 26 2020 how long it take to receive peuc

      1. Debra,

        The processing will certainly take a couple of weeks of time owing to the pendency. Please keep checking/following up at regular intervals.

    5. So I have been getting ue for 6 months and on Oct 21 I had a fact finding issue found and cleared after taking a month, I got put on hold I got nothing no benefits nothing because I am on hold until cleared up and it was another month later in my favor, I’ve been without payment since Oct 21 since then I have been on HOLD, I am beyond pissed, I call every Fri I see the letter I received saying its in my favor that says I am Monetary Eligible-yet I still have 6 payments on hold. I call DEO and I talk, I beg and I get told “we are working on it”, the letter is in my favor I am poor not rich I am poor Why how do you people get away with this

      1. I’m having similar issue.. I was accepted and was receiving payments for three months.. then it was stopped 5 weeks ago to check a possibility of fraud.. there was a determination to confirm my identity again.. this after the same office gives me insurance and food help and was taking partial of money to pay two different child support claims.. they don’t think I’m who I say I am.. and it just sits there pending.. what can be done to get this fixed.

    6. Hello

      I’m 59 years old and was laid off in March 2020 due to Covid.
      In June 2020 I was advised my job was eliminated and there is no chance of me
      Being brought back. I’m collecting UI since March.

      Pondering the thought of taking my early retirement pension as I can’t survive on
      UI any longer. My pension is of course reduced due to my age. Full pension is age 62.

      If I apply for early reduced pension in this situation, does my UI benefit get decreased? I’m in New York.
      I’m still looking for full time work. No luck.

      Thank you so much

    7. i was just layed off from my job, i did collect benefits in pa. my job is seasonal igot unemployment payments in jan. to april i had 26 weeks of unemployment , but only used about 13 weeks, and was called back to work. i received 2 weeks of 600 dollars of stimlus money. my question is now that i reopened my 2020 claim . i,m i still elegibe for any more stimlus payments along with my regular unemployment payments.

    8. I am 65 yrs old in California and being layed off in Dec 2020. If I apply for unemployment benefits and collect a company pension, will the pension reduce the unemployment benefits ? If you answer call unemployment what is the department or do you have a phone number for a help line. I have called and get automated questions that do not apply to my situation.
      Cannot get to a live person.

    9. Several years ago I was part of a reduction in force and was early-retired for pension purposes. I count on this small pension ($2K/mo) to supplement my employment which has been inconsistent this past two years. I am filing for UI in IL and I qualify for it, but they are saying my pension reduces my UI benefit to zero. Is that right?

      1. Mike,

        That is partially right. The pension will have an impact on UI benefits. Please check for relevant info on the Unemployment Office’s website.

    10. I have $219.00 left on my UE and still no work due to covid-19 will i be able to get a extension on my UE and will it cover the last two weeks. I request payment tomorrow.

        1. My benefits have expired, still.unemployed due to over 65, wdiebrtes, high blood pressure and have one kidney, Can I get PUA , Cares Act for any assistance

    11. im working at a place i have been layed off from a lot in my career.i got 30 yrs in there so i can retire now but need another job to make it hoping to stay working and get more hours.If i take a new job and get layed off there I will BE DRAWING 1400 A MONTH FROM THE JOB I WORKED 30 YRS would i be able to draw unemployment if the new job lays me off and would it be reduced because of my retirement money of 1400 month.

    12. My bf was laid off in April he got the the 600 to start with now he is only getting the unemployment and no extra when we hear ppl getting 3 checks totaling 40k that might be lies but still that is bullshit.

    13. I Sharon Bland or Sharon Scott or Sharon Ann Mccraw
      Use my phone to claim two of my boyfriends and my own benefits. Is that ok ?

    14. I’m getting pua on employment and it was supposed to be backdated to May 27th when I wasn’t ableable to start my new job and somehow it’s August 24th they said it would be backdated been sending messages and pua people keep saying they have emailed you guys too but nobody gets back to me who do I need to contact about this thank you

    15. I check my checking account balance every week but I cannot tell if I am getting my 300.00 extra unemployment. Also. How can I tell if I got my back time unemployment .

      1. Thelma,

        I did not understand what you meant. Please reach out to the Unemployment Office for precise answers to all your questions.

    16. I have exhausted my UI and all extensions. Not eligible for Fed Ed. Does EDD open a PUA claim for me. Or do I have to aoole for it. Its been past 30 days since receiving my Fed Ed denial letter.

    17. i have been unemployed for the whole year almost and since i have been trying to distance myself to better my all around health, it took me this long to file for benefits, i was hoping to get back pay all the way to the beginning.

      1. Zach,

        To qualify, the claimant is required to have sufficient earnings/employment during the “Base Period”. Please use the “Benefits Calculator” available on this website for more.

    18. Thank you o much for investigating this. When I received an overpayment statement and my benefits where stopped I felt my heart drop to my stomach. Already being evicted by a slumlord and now no income, i had to start working when i feel very at risk for getting the virus because of pre-existing conditions and the reason for filing in the first place. i am a cosmetologist and considered non-essential. I feel utterley hopeless and helpless in this situation.

    19. I cannot contact anyone in the unemployment offices because the phone hangs up on me in all cases after listening over and over the recorded message. I have called three numbers .

      I have received pandemic unemployment since March 31st. There was a pending adjudication but I never received any questions, letters nor emails about it and I was approved and paid. Now…this is what the website says:
      7 of 7 entries
      Issue Identification Number Employer Name Issue Type Status Date Mailed Level
      0002 7693 59-01
      PUA Pending 11/16/2020 Adjudication
      0002 4773 71-01
      Program Integrity Mailed 11/6/2020 Adjudicati
      Claimant Inbox
      Select the Search button to display your action items. To narrow your search, input issue date range below and select the Search button.
      Issue Date: From: To: 11/6/2020 to 11/16/2020
      • Below are the items that require your attention and that you need to take action on for your claim.
      • Select the Document ID
      I need this money to survive as others do while I am trying to re-establish any contract freelance work I am capable of doing….I report my small jobs as I get them but they do not come close to equaling my unemployment as of yet. Please tell me where I can go to find out what is needed here.

      1. Again basically I’ve also been put on hold for a ridiculously stupid reason.. Why can’t this issue be quickly handled. Is the any where we can get action if we already were receiving benefits and have been stopped suddenly

        1. Greg,

          I can understand your frustration. The Unemployment Office might be inundated with pending requests. Please visit the website to find the answers.

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