The United States economy is not at its best right now. Many Americans out there are financially struggling to keep up with increasing prices. The federal government has many programs that help people who are not doing well financially. Federal assistance programs can provide relief for Americans and eligible immigrants with housing, education, health, and more. It can be stressful for you when you begin to look at these programs and figure out which best suits you. Fortunately, the federal government makes it easier for Americans to navigate these programs on their website, Benefits.gov. True to its name, the website concentrates on offering information on most government benefit options. Additionally, the website asks you a couple of questions to help you narrow down your search with their Benefit Finder.
What Is Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program?
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF for short, is a federal government program, but state governments are in charge of its operation. According to the government website, the TANF program “provides approximately $16.5 billion to states, the District of Columbia, and US territories (Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico). Federally-recognized American Indian tribes and Alaska Native organizations may offer TANF through the tribal TANF program).”
State governments are in charge of the TANF’s operation. This means that every state government gets to decide on the benefit’s extent that is offered to the recipient, along with the eligibility requirements to qualify for the program. The main idea behind the TANF program is to help low-income households with children to reach independence. The TANF program concentrates on helping families get back on their feet and stay stable without external help.
How The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program Works
The federal government will not distribute cash handouts to low-income level households with children. Instead, state governments will use their TANF grants to give out cash assistance to those people. That grant fund will also be used to offer different services that are created to help families achieve independence. There are four main goals that summarize the TANF program:
- Providing assistance for children to be raised in their own homes or in their relative’s homes. In order to achieve that, help is offered to needy families.
- Trying to put an end to the household’s dependency on government benefits through the support of job preparation, employment, and marriage.
- Reduce out-of-wedlock pregnancy rates.
- Move forward to the development and permanence of two-parent families.
How Can You Apply For The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program?
To begin the application process, you need to reach out to your local social services offices and/or your state’s TANF office. We advise that you take some time to read about the TANF program before you actually apply to make sure there are no misunderstandings. The application is free so there are no risks involved.
Eligibility Requirements for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program
Your local state government makes all decisions in terms of benefits and eligibility for the TANF program. This means that eligibility for the TANF program may vary from one state to another. Low-income households with children are the target group of this program. As a general rule of thumb, there are two conditions that you need to meet to receive TANF benefits:
- The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program will only help low-income households.
- In most circumstances, the family will need to have one or more children/dependents under 18 years old.
Since there is a limited amount of funds that are distributed to each state through the TANF program, the Federal Government needs to ensure that the financial assistance is helping the development of families. This is why there are conditions that could disqualify applicants from getting benefits. This varies from one state to another.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program Work Limitations
The TANF program provides assistance to its applicants to look for well-paid jobs. The program also works on improving the skills of the applicants. That is why people who can work, but do not want to work, may be disqualified to get TANF benefits.
Working or trying to work is an important requirement to receive TANF benefits, but there are exceptions. There are some states, such as the State of Pennsylvania, that have designed circumstances where applicants can get TANF benefits without meeting the work requirement:
- If the recipient takes care of a child that is no more than one year old
- Those that are no older than 22 years old if they are in school
- Individuals that take care of dependents that have a disability
What Are the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program Work Requirements?
The federal government distributes TANF funds to state governments. State governments then make the decision of which households to help and the way to provide assistance. However, the Federal Government also established TANF to reach specific aims which focus on maintaining families with children and working parents. This is why state governments need to meet the Work Participation Rates (WPR) goals or they could face penalties.
WPR measures the number of work-eligible recipients through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program. There are two types of measures for WPR, which are the all-families rate and the two-parent families’ rate. A state needs to make sure they have at least 50% of households receiving TANF benefits to be employed for at least 30 hours per week. Single parents with kids under 6 years old should work for at least 20 hours per week.
The second WPR measure is the two-parent families’ rate. Households with two parents should work for at least 35 hours per week. Each state is required to meet a 90% two-parent families’ work rate to keep its TANF funding.
Things can start to get confusing when you start to search for the definition of “working hours.” There should be 12 categories of work, according to a legislation created in 1996. There is a restriction on how many hours can be assigned to each work category. For instance, you can only measure a certain amount of hours looking for employment as “activity hours.” Additionally, taking part in education and training components often cannot amount to a full-time activity.
Sanctions of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program
A TANF applicant needs to be employed to get TANF benefits. That is why there are some cases where the federal government may force a state to stop benefits from recipients who do not want to work without a valid reason. The issue is that most states end up enforcing “full family sanctions.” This means that if the parent does not want to work, then the whole household loses its TANF benefits.
If you have a feeling that money is tight and things are getting harder each day, you are not alone. The economy has not been at its peak recently. The government understands that many American households are struggling financially. This is why the federal government established many assistance programs that play a role in helping families get back on their feet. One of the best ways to find these programs is to visit Benefits.gov to get more information.
This article discussed a lot about the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program, from what it is about to how you can qualify. The focus of the TANF program is for households to achieve independence and self-sufficiency. However, the target group that the TANF program focuses on is low-income families with children.
Reach out to your local social services office and learn more about the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program before you apply. It is free of charge which means free of any risks!