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Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Cash Assistance


Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance is a federal-state program—the federal government sets basic rules for administering TANF cash assistance, but states have responsibility for developing their programs and income eligibility limits and benefit levels vary widely across the states. [More detail and national data...]

Federal decisions are italicized.

Eligibility Criteria

Income eligibility criteria

Federal rules or guidelines1Families must be needy, as defined by the state.
Earnings limit for a single-parent family of 32$11,760/year (2005)

Treatment of child support income

Treatment of child support income3No pass-through or disregard (2007)

Asset eligibility criteria

Assets disregarded for eligibility determination2Yes (2005)
Applicant asset limit2No limit (2005)4
Recipient asset limit2No limit (2005)4
Treatment of vehicles in asset test2Not applicable (2005)4

Two-parent families' eligibility

Two-parent families eligible on same basis as one-parent families5Yes (2003)

Immigrant eligibility criteria

Legal immigrants eligible for state-funded benefits when barred from federal6No (2007)

Participant Requirements

Work requirements

Federal rules or guidelines1Recipients must participate in work activities after reaching a trigger limit of no more than 24 months. States determine work requirements for families but lose some federal funds if a sufficient portion of their caseload does not meet federal work participation criteria.

Benefits

Benefit level

Monthly maximum benefit for family of 32$373/month (2005)
Annual maximum benefit for family of 32$4,476/year (2005)
Earned income disregard for benefit calculation7$250/month and 50% of remainder (2005)

Time limit on benefit receipt

Federal rules or guidelines1There is a lifetime time limit of 60 months on a family''s receipt of federally-funded benefits, but states may exempt up to 20% of their caseload from this limit and/or use state funds to extend benefits.
Lifetime time limit860 months (2005)9
Benefits continue to children after reaching lifetime time limit2No (2005)

Marriage incentives

Marriage incentives provided10No (2003)

Sanction policies

First sanction2Termination (full-family) for 1 month or until compliance, whichever is longer (2005)
Maximum sanction2Termination (full-family) for 6 months or until compliance, whichever is longer (2005)

Participants

Number of recipients

Number of recipients (families)1179,485 families (FY 2006)
Number of recipients (children)12129,997 children (FY 2006)
Number of recipients (adults)1240,198 adults (FY 2006)

Percent of caseload that is child-only

Percent of caseload that is child-only1154% (FY 2006)

Spending

Total spending

Total spending (state and federal)13$330.6 million (FY 2006)

Data Notes and Sources

Data on TANF Cash Assistance were compiled by NCCP in September 2007. Some state policy decisions may have changed since these data were collected.

  1. U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means, The 2004 Green Book: Background Material and Data on Programs Within the Jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means, 2004.
  2. Gretchen Rowe with Jeffrey Versteeg, The Welfare Rules Databook: State Policies as of July 2005, Assessing the New Federalism, The Urban Institute, 2006.
  3. A child support pass-through is the amount of collected child support that the state gives to families on whose behalf the child support was collected. A child support disregard is the amount of child support that the family can keep without lowering their TANF benefits.
    Jan Justice, State Policy Re Pass-Through and Disregard of Current Month's Child Support Collected for Families Receiving TANF-Funded Cash Assistance, Center for Law and Social Policy, 2007.
  4. Ohio has eliminated the asset test.
  5. In states that do not offer equivalent eligibility rules, two-parent families face stricter requirements than single-parent families.
    Theodora Ooms, Stacey Bouchet, and Mary Parke, Beyond Marriage Licenses: Efforts in States to Strengthen Marriage and Two-Parent Families, Center for Law and Social Policy, 2004.
  6. Lawful permanent residents (LPRs) are generally barred from federal benefits during their first 5 years as LPRs, unless they entered the U.S. before 8/22/96. Exceptions include refugees and U.S. veterans (and their families). See data source for more details.
    National Immigration Law Center, Guide to Immigrant Eligibility for Federal Programs, Fourth Edition, 2002; with updates from Update Page, www.nilc.org/pubs/Guide_update.htm (accessed September 6, 2007).
  7. Earned income disregards are often time-limited; this is the disregard applied in calculating benefits for recipients in their 13th month of earnings.
    Gretchen Rowe with Jeffrey Versteeg, The Welfare Rules Databook: State Policies as of July 2005, Assessing the New Federalism, The Urban Institute, 2006.
  8. Criteria for time limit exemptions and extensions vary by state.
    Gretchen Rowe with Jeffrey Versteeg, The Welfare Rules Databook: State Policies as of July 2005, Assessing the New Federalism, The Urban Institute, 2006.
  9. There is a fixed-period time limit of 36 months followed by 24 months of ineligibility.
  10. Theodora Ooms, Stacey Bouchet, and Mary Parke, Beyond Marriage Licenses: Efforts in States to Strengthen Marriage and Two-Parent Families, Center for Law and Social Policy, 2004.
  11. Figure reflects average monthly caseload.
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Administration for Children and Families, "Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Average Monthly Number of Families, FY 2006," http://www.acf.hhs.gov (accessed September 21, 2007).
  12. Figure reflects average monthly caseload.
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Administration for Children and Families, "Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Average Monthly Number of Recipients, Adults and Children, FY 2006," http://www.acf.hhs.gov (accessed September 21, 2007).
  13. Figure reflects expenditures on "basic assistance" only; spending on child care, transportation, training, and other benefits not included. Basic assistance is designed to meet on-going, basic needs and is provided primarily in the form of cash, but may include other forms, such as vouchers.
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Administration for Children and Families, "TANF Financial Data: Table F - Combined Spending of Federal and States Funds Expended in FY 2006," http://www.acf.hhs.gov (accessed September 20, 2007).