The TANF Remedy for Needy Families

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a program that has been working for years to assist needy Americans with their financial troubles. As a national program that has a variety of different activities, TANF provides job support, relief, and even up to five years of financial assistance, which they get from state funds.

Types of Activities and Assistance

TANF works based on the philosophy that they not only help needy families, but they also help them help themselves. It’s an organization which supports those who are going through hardship, but want to one day stand on their own two feet. The first type of assistance that is offered is what is known as transitional assistance which aims to help families with their long-term development objectives such that they can support themselves and live better lives. They achieve this through delivering educational services, vocational training, and rehabilitation if needed. Financial assistance from TANF is also very generous which includes monthly payment to settle basic expenses (utilities, food, housing, etc.). TANF recipients also qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Eligibility Requirements

There are both federal and state regulations that are used to determine those who will be eligible for TANF benefits. What is defined as “low-income” strictly depends on the area that you reside in, but generally if you have one dependent under the age of 18 (or sometimes 18 years old but still in high school) while fitting into the low-income category you have a good chance of getting the benefits. The major disqualifiers are if you have a criminal record (or have committed a felony), intentionally write wrong information on your application, broke your parole (if you were serving time), or if you received the value of five year of TANF assistance. You can apply by getting in touch with any local TANF office or any social services body that will be able to help.

Is TANF A Work Program?

The answer is that it differs from state to state. Though generally it is, in most states you are not required to participate in the work program if the following apply to your situation: (1) if you are over 60, (2) if you are a primary caregiver for a child who is less than a year old, *3) if you are a veteran receiving disability benefits, (4) if you are an approved social security beneficiary (for either Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability benefits).

Understanding the Pandemic TANF Act

Many people do not realize that as the government responds with assisting those impacted by COVID-19, programs are created to provide necessary relief. That is why it is important to understand the Pandemic TANF Act when it comes to understanding TANF as a whole during this time.

Low-incomes families face an increased risk of not being able to meet the work eligibility requirements for programs like TANF due to COVID-19 aspects like widespread economic closures, illness, social distancing measures, caregiving responsibilities, and more. This can cause low-income families to not only struggle to receive the help that they need but can also thrust them further into financial hardship that can make it harder than ever to keep up with bills, provide basic necessities, keep up with the care of their loved ones and their home, and more. That is why the Pandemic TANF Assistance Act was created.

This act aims to address both the short-term and long-term needs facing low-income families during the pandemic. This act temporarily waives not only work requirements, but other requirements for current TANF recipients. Not only are some requirements waived, but there is also a new assistance opportunity available called the Coronavirus Emergency Assistance Grant Program. This program would provide tribes, territories, and states some additional resources in order to support qualifying families until September 20th, 2021.

The government realizes that there are those that are going to be more affected than others during this pandemic. Which is why they are doing what they can in order to provide relief through different assistance programs, grants, and acts.


TANF is a great way that Americans can receive help during times of financial hardship. However, as COVID-19 affects the country in unprecedented ways, additional resources need to be created in order to help those getting impacted the most. That is where the Pandemic TANF Assistance Act becomes a valuable tool to recipients who were struggling to continue to meet eligibility requirements. If you have any questions you can also contact your local assistance offices or go online to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in order to learn more about how the Pandemic TANF Assistance Act creates more opportunities for qualifying low-income families. There are also additional resources available that can help you get a better understanding of what other information you may need to know when reviewing assistance options for your current situation!