Learn About Assistance for Non-Food Items

While food stamps beneficiaries can only use their SNAP benefits to purchase food products, many SNAP applicants may need help paying for other necessities. These individuals can consider applying for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which is a monthly cash assistance payment that beneficiaries can use to purchase a wider range of household goods for their families.

What is the purpose of TANF?

TANF, also known as Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA), aims to help the children of needy families so that they can continue to receive care from their relatives. As the name suggests, the TANF program provides benefits for a limited period of time. TANF distributes benefits so that parents can temporarily care for children while they seek work. The program also aims to encourage the formation of two-parent families and minimize out-of-wedlock pregnancies.

TANF beneficiaries can use TANF cash assistance to purchase items and services including home supplies, phone service, utilities, clothing, housing, furniture, transportation, medical supplies, and other basic needs, including food.

Who can receive TANF?

Only state resident families with a child or children age 18 and younger are eligible to receive TANF benefits. TANF defines “family” more strictly than the SNAP program defines “household.” A TANF beneficiary family must consist of (1) parents and their children or (2) blood relatives caring for their related children. Any direct beneficiary of TANF must be a U.S. citizen or qualified non-citizen with a Social Security Number (SSN) or completed SSN application.

In many cases, TANF beneficiaries have experienced a crisis such as job loss or medical emergency. Often, grandparents or other relative caretakers of TANF beneficiaries have become primary caretakers for court-ordered reasons.

About Income Limits for Receiving TANF

TANF beneficiary families must have little to no income. The maximum income limit varies according to family size and number of parents or caretakers. For example, the current maximum monthly income level for a family of five with one parent or caretaker is $251 while the maximum income for a family of three with two parents or caretakers is $206.

Learn About TANF Work Requirements

Single-parents receiving TANF benefits for both themselves and their children must work at least 30 hours per week, or 20 hours per week if they have a child age six or younger. Two-parent families must work at least 35 hours per week or 55 hours per week if the family receives subsidized child care.

TANF has alternative requirements for certain household situations. For example, a household head who is younger than 20 must participate in an educational program for 20 hours per week. TANF does not require grandparents or other relative caretakers who receive child-only support to meet these work requirements.

If a TANF beneficiary who is required to work fails or refuses to comply, his or her entre family will be penalized. The TANF program will terminate cash assistance for a specified penalty period.

Find Out About Other Requirements for TANF

Children in a TANF beneficiary family must meet certain basic eligibility requirements. Children younger than five must have up-to-date immunizations, and children between the ages of six and 18 must attend school. Additionally, TANF requires parents or relative caretakers to attend the children’s school conferences.

Like the food stamps program, TANF requires beneficiaries to cooperate with child support enforcement and demonstrate limited assets. To be eligible for TANF, potential beneficiary families must have no more than $2,000 in countable assets (typically, this refers to money held in bank accounts). TANF beneficiaries who are required to work may not own a vehicle valued above $8,500.

What are the time limits?

TANF allows up to 48 months of TANF benefits; however, the TANF program makes exceptions for certain “hardship” scenarios. TANF does not place these time limits on grandparents and other relatives who are receiving child-only TANF assistance.

How much TANF can you receive?

Just as SNAP benefits depend upon household size, TANF benefit payments vary according to family size. Certain income deductions and shelter obligations, such as house or rent payments, also determine the TANF payment size. For example, a two-person family with no shelter obligations can receive a maximum monthly benefit of $158, whereas a family of five with a shelter obligation above $50 may receive a maximum monthly TANF payment of $426.

TANF takes a different approach to payments for relative caretakers. Relative caretakers receive a payment for each child. Each month, TANF provides $242 for children age five or younger, $249 for children ages six to 12, and $298 for children ages 13 to 18.

Learn About Additional TANF Services

The TANF program provides more than just cash assistance. The program also funds services such as mental health counseling and child care and transportation. Families who do not receive TANF cash assistance and have an income at or below 200 percent of the poverty line are eligible for these additional TANF services.

How to Apply for TANF

Potential TANF beneficiaries can apply for TANF by completing and submitting the online TANF application. Applicants also have the option of visiting a SNAP benefits office and filling out a form in-person.