What Every Household Needs to Know about the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program

(NationRise.com) – If you’ve encountered some ultimately difficult times, it might be time for you to take a look at government-funded benefits such as TANF. Fortunately, the government funds this and other programs to combat poverty, and if you’re in a low-income or no-income situation, this could be your lifeline.

If you find yourself in this situation, you’re not alone: 37 million Americans exist in low-income households.

TANF stands for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The government instituted TANF in 1996 with the mission of providing financial assistance to low-income households meeting specific requirements.

This program is designed to assist financially struggling parents. That can include married couples, single parents, and even some grandparents. Additionally, there are other programs available to TANF-qualifying families, like food stamps, Medicaid, child care services, and housing subsidies.

If you believe you might benefit from TANF and you’d like to learn more about what it offers and how it can help, read on!

All About the TANF Program

TANF came into existence as a part of the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, per Congress. The goal of TANF is to get financial support to families and individuals who need assistance due to limited resources such as low income.

How does TANF money get to recipients? The federal government provides block grants to states and territories. The states then administer the program by distributing the funds to aid eligible applicants. The block grants might also go towards funding other state-administered social welfare programs like education, childcare, job training and state-run healthcare initiatives.

Qualifying for TANF

Two types of people can get benefits from the TANF program: kids and adults.

An eligible child must be under 18 unless they are 19 and is a full-time student. They must also be one of the following:

  • Has given birth in the last year, or is pregnant
  • Has one or more parents who are mentally or physically incapacitated
  • Has had one or more parents die
  • Has lost another immediate family member (such as a sibling) to death
  • Has lived away from both biological parents for at least six months (consecutive) due to parental divorce or separation

Adults can qualify for TANF based upon the following conditions. They must be over 18 and:

  • Are United States citizens or qualified aliens
  • Reside in the state where they apply for the TANF benefits
  • Are underemployed or unemployed
  • Have a low or very low income source

Additionally, you could also qualify as an adult if you:

  • Have a child 18 years of age or less
  • Are head of your household at 18 years of age or less
  • Are pregnant

What Can Disqualify You From Receiving TANF Benefits

There are several common reasons people find themselves unqualified for TANF. The reasons include:

  • Refusal to work
  • Convicted felon charged with specific offenses
  • Parole or probation violation(s)
  • Have already received TANF funding for five years (cumulative)
  • Lied in TANF benefits application
  • Have pursued child support enforcement
  • Veteran already receiving disability payments from the Veteran’s Administration
  • Are 60 years of age or older
  • Already get Social Security Disability payments or Social Security Income

Why Apply for TANF?

There are three main reasons you should consider applying for TANF if you believe you can qualify. TANF provides temporary financial aid, which can help you pay for shelter, food, clothing, utilities, medical bills, transportation costs, and additional emergency expenses.

TANF also provides traditional assistance by promoting responsibility. This means it provides language skills, rehab, post-secondary education, vocational training, GED preparation, and more.

Lastly, TANF offers support to people facing major issues like addiction, substance abuse, homelessness, domestic violence, and mental illness.

If you’re interested in applying for TANF, you must do so via the Department of Health & Human Services. Access their website online at their local library, or call 1-800-843-6154.

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